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Survey: Independent grocers perform highly in fresh and customer service areas

Survey: Independent grocers perform highly in fresh and customer service areas
In a survey conducted by Nielsen on behalf of the National Grocers Association, independent supermarkets scored high marks in selling high quality fruits, vegetables and meats and offering fast checkouts.

The National Grocers Association (NGA) released topline results from its consumer trends study, which for the first time segments independent supermarket shoppers from national chain shoppers. The survey was conducted on behalf of the National Grocers Association by Nielsen and results were presented at The NGA Show, held February 28 – March 2.

The consumer trends study was conducted online by Nielsen on behalf of the National Grocers Association December 7 – December 22, 2015, among 1,525 U.S. adults ages 18+ who shop at national, regional or independent grocery stores. The sample was split into a geographic grouping of urban, suburban, and rural shoppers—and, for the first-time, was segmented by consumers who shop at independent supermarkets.

The results revealed high consumer satisfaction among independent supermarkets. Eighty percent of respondents who primarily shop at an independent supermarket reported being very/extremely satisfied compared to 65 percent of respondents who reported being very/extremely satisfied with a national chain.

According to the survey results, independent supermarket operators scored high marks in selling high quality fruits and vegetables (85 percent), selling high quality meats (84 percent), and offering fast checkouts (87 percent). Results also revealed that independents were strongly associated with offering locally grown produce and other packaged goods (69 percent) and participating in community outreach initiatives (51 percent).

“As community stewards with their finger on the pulse of local demand, independent supermarket operators understand the value of fresh as a differentiator to the large national chains,” said NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. “These results make it clear that shoppers expect freshness, convenience and helpful, knowledgeable service, and today’s independent supermarket operator is finding innovative ways to respond to a variety of consumer preferences—something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve.”

“Grocery shoppers are extremely satisfied with the experience they are having in/at Independent grocery stores. The Independent grocer has transformed their customers into advocates—these customers will support your business plans and recommend your store. With the bar set higher for independents, the key to independent grocers growing their market share is by leveraging their strengths—fresh foods, great service and most of all a connection to your community,” said Laurie Rains, vice president, U.S. retail consumer & shopper analytics at Nielsen.

While online shopping still lags in the U.S., results suggested that independents that offered online shopping could increase consumer satisfaction. One in three consumers indicated that they might switch supermarket stores if that store offered online shopping.

Regarding mobile apps and social media, the research showed that nearly one in five shoppers have downloaded food and beverage apps; however, usage among those who download is high (90 percent). Additionally, respondents who primarily shopped at independent supermarkets (48 percent) indicated that they used Facebook to research new products, recipes and nutrition.

These survey results will be released in full and further examined in a “Going to Market” webinar series this spring. More information can be found at

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