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WESTPORT, Conn. -- Shoppers would like more dynamic and exciting companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, Nordstrom's, or Disney to take over and run their local supermarkets, according to a research study conducted by New England Consulting Group (NECG) here.
The study polled 1,300 female shoppers for their attitudes toward supermarket shopping, as well as for ideas or suggestions for improving their own shopping experience at grocery outlets. The shopper recommendations tended to relate to convenience and increased customer choice, including a "cut-to-order meat section" (62 percent), "improved international food section" (59 percent), and "a broader selection of takeout food" (57 percent). Respondents shopped five or more different chains or store types in the past year.
Commenting on one of the key findings that found consumers wanting to take over and run their local supermarket, David Stone, NECG partner, said: "When asked, these heads of household preferred more dynamic and exciting companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, Nordstrom's, and Disney to traditional supermarket operators." Stone added that the findings revealed "a powerful tool of innovation to force the consideration of how someone outside an industry would revolutionize a category."
Traditionally, retailers have managed the tradeoffs of price, assortment, and convenience, which has led to commoditization and now convergence, said Stone, noting that as a result, traditional mass retailers are losing while formerly niche banners are gaining ground. From an economic standpoint, retailers like Ahold, Albertsons, Kroger, and Safeway are indisputably returning less to shareholders than Publix, Wal-Mart, Costco, and Whole Foods are, he added.
As for what NECG says Publix, Wal-Mart, Costco, and Whole Foods are doing right, "It seems these retailers have become marketers. They have identified a brand-defining idea that echoes loud both inside and outside the company. Wal-Mart has low prices. Publix has great service. Costco has a treasure hunt. Whole Foods has healthy. What does Kroger have? Successful retail marketers are leveraging brand-defining ideas through experiential environments. This implies that consumer shoppers can articulate what the retailer stands for because they can feel it. The brand-consumer relationship is deep and meaningful -- and often worth the drive."
NECG partner Tom Hayes said the study was developed in preparation for several presentations at the recent ACNielsen Consumer 360 industry summit of retailers and manufacturers.