The Grocery Sector – What Do Shoppers Really Want?

The UK grocery market is worth £157 billion according to latest figures. Grocery shopping is big business and retailers are searching for ever more innovative ways of capturing as much of that market as they can.

We have been helping retailers to understand what they do in-store and how it impacts on their share of market and customer satisfaction. At Marketing Sciences, we have been conducting research in the grocery sector for nearly 20 years understanding the grocery shopper in an age where technology had little to do with the basics of buying the weekly grocery shopping trip.

Back in 1992 grocery shoppers were most interested in price, conveniently located stores, special offers and good service from staff. Stock availability was also a big issue at this time with supermarkets continually working on better distribution methods to satisfy ever demanding customers.

Following a number of years of economic downtown in the noughties, the rise of the discounter (Aldi, Lidl and Netto) and an ongoing price war, increasingly price savvy grocery shoppers’ loyalty to supermarkets was diminished with many opting to cherry pick from 2 or 3 different stores for the best deals.

In 2012, with all retailers (even Waitrose and Sainsbury’s) turning to price strategies to win customers, and controversial claims and voucher led guarantees that they are all the cheapest, the differentiator now is Service – ‘Back to Basics’. Low prices and ‘value’ ranges are now hygiene factors for supermarkets, good service is the differentiator and what consumers say they want.

We conduct research to understand the grocery shopper instore, online, via telephone and more recently via smart phone. We can capture shopper decisions and thought processes in the moment, while they are at the fixture making a decision, or while they are shopping online.


Although staff and service is the differentiator, this is not what the retailers are talking up and getting excited about, the hot topic in the world of grocery retail in 2012 is technology

 1)      Bringing technology to the shop floor

2)      Bringing the shop floor to the consumer via technology

Technology fits with the important trend of service as it can improve service to customers

With just under half of UK consumers now owning a smart phone, grocery retailers are excited by the opportunity this presents to engage with customers both while they are in-store, and while they are away from the store.

I’m going to be blogging in the near future in more detail about how technology is used, so watch this space!

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Danni Findlay
01962 842211
Article date - 05/12/2012
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