Trust high, loyalty low in grocery sector

Research by data science specialist dunnhumby in the form of a consumer pulse survey revealed that trust and satisfaction with grocery retailers in Australia has surged following the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The COVID-19: Australia – Attitudes and Behaviour report, which surveyed the shopping attitudes, behaviours and satisfaction of 400 consumers in Australia, showed more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of Aussie shoppers agree that grocery stores are doing a good job managing the pandemic – a significantly higher rate than the average of 54 per cent worldwide. Interestingly, this figure is even higher than the trust in government, with 64 per cent of Aussies agreeing that the government is doing a good job. Globally, the benchmark average of shoppers who think that their government is handling the COVID-19 situation well is only 41 per cent.

Despite 83 per cent of Aussie consumers surveyed saying they are practicing social distancing, the findings show Aussies still prefer to purchase their groceries in store, with only 20 per cent of grocery trips being done online (compared to the global average of 30 per cent). The Australian average is also well below other APAC markets. For instance, in China and Korea, 60 per cent and 52 per cent of grocery shopping is now being done online, respectively.

Kylie Gleeson-Long, managing director at dunnhumby Australia, commented, “Australian shoppers are exhibiting less changed shopping behaviour than what we’re seeing in other markets because of how well retailers have identified the need to keep people safe balanced with a good shopping experience. The only exception is that Aussies appear to be spending more on groceries per trip, but this is probably because they are making fewer trips in total.”

Customer satisfaction with in-store experiences remains higher in Australia (23 per cent) than the rest of the world (16 per cent). The majority of survey respondents also agreed with a number of actions implemented by grocers in Australia to help manage the spread of the virus compared to global respondents, including special hours for certain people (90 per cent vs. 81 per cent globally) and limiting the number of quantities purchased (85 per cent vs. 79 per cent globally).

“In light of these findings, it’s important for retailers not to become complacent, even though the extraordinary actions they have taken over the past couple of months have been praised. Customer satisfaction is strong but we know that loyalty among Australians is historically low, with the majority shopping across multiple supermarkets. If anything, the pandemic has highlighted how critical the shopping experience both in-store and online really is,” Gleeson-Long said.

Other findings include:

  • Australians are most likely to notice quantity limits imposed on certain items at 73 per cent – a rate significantly higher than elsewhere in the world at 44 per cent.
  • While Australians are more likely to notice out of stocks in stores, they are less likely (50 per) to blame retailers for this and are 56 per cent more likely to blame other customers.
  • 63 per cent of Australian customers say their personal finances are “not so good” or “poor” at this time, reflecting the real need for retailers to leverage their customer data to price and promote items accordingly.

“We can’t know for sure what will happen as restrictions ease, but COVID-19 has certainly helped to reinforce the relationship between customers and their local store experience. Retailers need to prepare for the new normal and ensure the best ongoing customer experience to maintain and secure that loyalty,” Gleeson-Long said.

“In addition, retailers must continue to recognise and protect their dedicated employees, all while providing relevant and personalised communications, ranges and offerings to ensure they are meeting their customers’ changing needs.”