Guess What Doesn’t Matter to Strong Customer Relationships in the Grocery Biz? The Food.


Share on LinkedIn

We conducted a recent study ,, among consumers to determine the strength of their relationships with the grocery store they shop most often. We found our measure of relationship strength ( was a very strong predictor (much stronger than satisfaction levels) of spend, share of wallet, number of visits and the number of store brand items purchased.

We also identified, from among a myriad of operational and marketing levers, the biggest drivers of this relationship strength. And is often the case, what may be as or even more interesting is what is relatively less important – the FOOD. The explanation for this underscores the danger of focusing only on customer satisfaction. Product quality and its specific dimensions (e.g. freshness, availability, variety) are likely to be considered table stakes attributes – the “entry price” to be in the grocery business. While product quality is quite likely to have an impact on customer satisfaction with a given experience it is a likely to be a binary dimension – e.g. presence or absence of it – and perhaps not the primary
satisfaction driver.

This may be less true for “destination categories” (e.g. meat, bakery) but in the aggregate, product quality is difficult to differentiate – certainly within a given retail format – and likely becomes, at least partially, subsumed in importance by all the other process based elements of a shopping experience (e.g. driving to store, parking, shopping, checking out). For example, there is ample evidence from academic studies showing service quality as the most critical determinant of merchandise quality perception. This then explains the “failure” of product quality to show up as a major contributor in building customer relationships beyond the utilitarian variety that meets basic needs.

Kevin Schulman
Twelve plus yrs of market research and analytics applied to customer acquisition, retention and consumer equity.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here