What grocery shoppers are looking for (Survey)

Nielsen report finds big appetite for bargains among North American consumers

For 39% of Canadians, grocery shopping is a chore that they try to spend as little time on as possible. However, North American grocery retailers are doing a pretty job of making the shopping experience as painless as possible.

According to a new global Nielsen report, 74% of North American consumers said their main grocery retailer “always or mostly” carries the items they want—10 percentage points above the global average. Almost two-thirds (64%) said their main grocery retailer provides them with offers they like and value, compared to 52% globally.

Nielsen surveyed more than 30,000 online consumers in 61 countries, including Canada, to understand what consumers want in a shopping experience and the types of product attributes and in-store services that are important.

The survey showed that consumers around the globe are looking for good deals. Globally, 59% of respondents said they enjoy taking the time to find bargains, and the figure is even higher in North America (68%). When it comes to store selection, price-related attributes fall below several others globally, but are more influential in North America and Latin America than the global average.

For Canadians, the attributes that are highly influential in determining where to shop are:

  • the store has high-quality fresh (61%)
  • the store has the products I want and they are regularly in stock (60%)
  • the store has great sales and promotions (60%)
  • I discover good value for my money (59%)
  • convenient location (58%)
  • lowest prices overall (58%)
  • the store carries the food and non-food items that I need (51%)
  • there were good sale/coupon items in last week’s store ad/circular (47%)
  • the store makes it easy for me to get in and out quickly (45%)

“While intense promotional activity among retailers and manufacturers has created an expectation among consumers that low prices should be the norm, some consumers are recalibrating their spending—and increasingly, value is about more than the lowest price,” said Steve Matthesen, global president of retail, Nielsen, in the report.

“Consumers are often willing to pay more if they think the benefits outweigh the price. One of the most effective ways retailers can avoid pricing wars and unsustainable promotion strategies is to increase the perceived benefits they provide. To keep shoppers coming back, however, brands must exceed shoppers’ expectations and convincingly demonstrate that the higher price is truly justified.”

Not surprisingly, health and wellness is a top priority for consumers globally. Among Canadian respondents, 64% said they actively seek products with healthful ingredients and 62% said they read labels. However, 37% said there are not enough healthful options to buy.

In the report, Matthesen noted that many U.S. retailers have rolled out shelf tags that designate healthier choices among various types of foods.

“This is a good start, but nutritional labels and health information can be confusing for consumers,” he said. “Retailers need to do more to help consumers make the selection process easier. And actions speak loudest. Employing experts who can help educate store staff and provide counseling for shoppers can help boost sales and customer satisfaction.”

The report also notes that in-store add-on services may drive satisfaction and visits. Globally, in-store banking (42%), fast food (40%), prepared food (40%) and pharmacy (39%) are the most widely available and used in-store services.

Other services that are less widely available and used—such as cooking classes (17%), health clinics (27%), beauty care (27%) and postal services (29%)—have strong potential, according to the report. About one in four respondents say they would use these services if they were available.


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