What Matters for Customers in Grocery Stores?


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We all love shopping. Some more than others. But all of us need to engage with grocery stores if we want to eat at home. So, what does matter for us as customers of Grocery stores? This article looks into key drivers of store choices people make. There are five key factors that make us choose the store we want to go in. Read further to know what they are and how to apply them into your business!

Grocery business has become highly competitive market in the recent decades. People don’t go to closest store to them so much anymore and even if they do, there are so many stores to choose from in just immediate proximity. Think about it. How many grocery stores can you recall within 1 mile or 2 kilometres from your home? If you live in a city, I’m sure at least 2-4. If you live somewhere on the country side, it could be even zero, but surely you can recall several grocery stores you visit regularly anyway?

Morrisons (2014) has done research on customer key drivers of store choice and they identified five key factors that affect the store choice of their clients: price, product choice, ease, service and expertise. Surprisingly, customer experience is not the most leading factor but price. That could make sense since people may try to keep their food expenses as low as possible (or at least I do, maybe you too?). However, looking at the the price element more closer, they found out that it is not low prices what people are after, but saving money and having a price match. Rationale behind that could be related to the other element people were using choosing their store: ease. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the store actually made sure that I won’t pay more for visiting them. Then I wouldn’t have to do it. At least in U.K. stores like Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons have started doing price matching to each other and other grocery chains. This way they are communicating to their clients that we do it for you. How reliable that system is for the client is another matter.

What can we learn from all this? If you work in a grocery or retail business, then you might want to do your own research. You should find out what are the key drivers for store choice for your clients. Once you find those out, then you should find out what are the key factors in each of those drivers. For example if ease is important for your clients, then what would make it easier for them? Maybe remove the locks from the trolleys? Or adjust the opening hours to match your clients needs better? Or if price is key driver in your store also, then what factors about that price are most important? Is it a low price or perhaps vouchers or something else? At least in Morrisons’ case it was neither of those.

Now, what about if you don’t work in grocery business, but you are still in retail? Then it might be beneficial to find these drivers for your company also and understand them in more details. If you happen to be based in United Kingdom or Finland, then you might want to use application called Gizlo to find out some key statistics about the store performance of your business.


Understanding what aspects of your business customers really value, you should look into finding ways to tap into the drivers of customer experience. This will help to focus resources where they most matter. And it is not enough to know the drivers but you should also find out the factors within those drivers that are key. For example if the environment in your stores is important, then what is it about that environment? Is it having clear aisles for people to stroll around? Or having cleaner facilities? That is your job to find out. It should be fairly obvious why this is so important. People buy based on their emotions and perceptions of various things. If your business can’t pull the right levers to make the clients happy, then it will hurt the business. So, let’s get cracking shall we?

Here are some reflective questions for you to think about:

  • Do you know the drivers for your customers that will affect their choices?
  • Do you understand that the key factors for those drivers so that you can purposefully manage the drivers?
  • What approaches do you have in place for reinforcing value for your clients?
  • Do you collect meaningful data that can be actually used to take action to improve your customer experiences?
  • Are you able to personalise the offers and interactions with your clients to create more value for them?

For a complementary online training on Customer Experience Blueprint, please visit: http://addvalueto.me/customer-experience-blueprint

Receive a complementary copy of my book on customer-centric process leadership! Please visit http://addvalueto.me/download-a-free-process-leadership-book/

Janne Ohtonen, Ph.D.
Dr Janne Ohtonen, Director of Customer Experience Management, has dedicated his life to making this world a better place to all customers. He fights against bad customer experiences, ensuring that companies serving their customers are not only profitable but also enjoyable to do business with for a long time.


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