Private Label Buyer

Giant Food, ShopRite Tops, PL Differentiation Fades

June 4, 2012

A new annual survey by Market Force Information shows that Giant Food and ShopRite rank ahead of Walmart as the country’s favorite grocers. But it also concludes that shoppers are having a more difficult time today differentiating brands, particularly private label products.

The survey of more than 6,400 consumers tracked 125 grocers as being the primary source of spending. The top eight then were ranked by scale, to offset the effects of national grocers such as Walmart and Kroger having far more opportunities to draw customers than smaller regional chains such as Giant Food.

The survey found there was “very little differentiation in categories such as private label brands, which may be an area for grocers to differentiate.”

“The top two (in private label satisfaction) stayed the same, they just switched places,” Market Force Chief Marketing Officer Janet Eden-Harris said. “Aldi in 2011 was No. 1 and Kroger was No. 2, and they switched places in 2012.”

Costco ranked third on the list in 2012, followed by Publix and Safeway.

There were some other interesting conclusions. For the third consecutive year since the survey began, the overwhelming reason for consumers’ choice of their primary grocer was convenient location. But Eden-Harris said that the recession was not likely the reason behind that.

“I think it’s time,” she said. “It’s got to be somebody who’s right around the corner. Now, if there’s someone more expensive there you might drive a little bit, but it’s still got to be within a reasonable convenience ratio.”

A total of 15 grocers received at least 2 percent or more of voters choosing them as their primary location. That included national grocers such as Walmart, Kroger, Target, and Safeway, along with regional locations such as Giant Eagle, HEB, and even warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club.

One name missing: Supervalu, either in its Albertson’s or Dominick’s stores.

The other surprising conclusion, Eden-Harris said, was that Aldi again topped Walmart among its customers as the low-cost leader in the sector.

“Walmart always has been the price leader, and they’re up there in the ranking, but consumers two years in a row now have said that Aldi has better prices,” she said. “That is Walmart’s bread and butter. That surprised me.”