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Study: Aldi a growing competitive force

BY Marianne Wilson

Shoppers continue to score traditional supermarkets high in quality and store cleanliness and selection, but deep-discounter Aldi is a growing threat.

That’s according to a study by the Retail FeedBack Group, which found that traditional supermarkets continue to maintain the strongest overall satisfaction score (4.31 on a five-point scale) when compared to Aldi (4.27) and Walmart (3.93). Supermarkets also have the highest scores in quality and variety.

Aldi, however, received the top score (4.30) when considering value for money spent, and also had the highest overall satisfaction score (4.30) during the peak traffic hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. versus supermarkets (4.27) and Walmart (3.98).

In addition, Aldi shoppers are more likely to recommend the store, with a Net Promoter Score of 44.7 compared to supermarkets (40.7) or Walmart (27.1). And 42% of those who shopped at Aldi say they plan to shop there more in the next 12 months, versus 22% for supermarket shoppers and 28% for Walmart shoppers.

“Aldi continues to make inroads in competing against supermarkets,” said Doug Madenberg, principal, RFG. “As Aldi continues to remodel stores and expand into new locations, supermarkets need to step up their game in areas like staff availability and helpfulness, maintain leading scores in quality and variety, as well as focus operationally on improving satisfaction during high traffic time periods.”

Supermarket shoppers rated quality/freshness of the food and groceries (4.44), cleanliness of the store (4.42) and item variety and selection (4.38) as the strongest core experience factors. Associate friendliness, while the highest service rating, received a more moderate score of 4.32, followed by checkout speed/efficiency (4.28), associate helpfulness/knowledge (4.24) and the lowest scoring service area – associate availability – (4.17). Service is a critical factor given that overall satisfaction is significantly higher when service attributes receive stronger scores.

Tied for the lowest score among all core experience factors was value for the money spent (4.17). Looking at specific price attributes, the results show produce prices (3.99), meat/poultry prices (4.00) and everyday prices (4.01) all received low scores in the supermarket channel, while advertised sales items scored much higher (4.34). This is an important strength, as 73% of shoppers refer to one or more advertising/sales vehicles – traditional, social, mobile and digital – before or during the visit.

In core experience ratings, Aldi shoppers give value for money spent the highest mark (4.51) versus Walmart shoppers (4.32) and supermarket shoppers (4.17). With the exception of value for money spent, Walmart shoppers score Walmart lowest on the other core experience factors relative to supermarkets and Aldi. It is also noteworthy that Aldi has moved into a tie with supermarkets on quality and freshness (56% “highly satisfied”), with Walmart trailing at 46%.

RFG’s 2019 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study also revealed that while digital circulars (30%) continue to grow, the printed circular is still more popular (51%), more so with boomers (62%) as compared to Millennials (40%). But digital coupons (33%) have now surpassed clipped coupons (29%) and are used across all age groups.

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