According to a survey of 2,900 U.S. grocery shoppers conducted by Morgan Stanley AlphaWise, tales of traditional grocers’ impending doom might be overblown. Amazon.com has a dominant position in online retail, and has been making moves to disrupt the food retail industry.
The survey–which was conducted in April, before Amazon’s announced purchase of Whole Foods–found that the top driver of grocery shopping behavior was “convenient location,” with 70% of consumers citing it as a reason, followed by “lowest/best price” with 54%. Lower prices and more convenience were also the top two reasons for customers to switch to a new grocery store, with Krogerthe top ranked store for convenience and Trader Joe’s for price according to consumers.
Respondents ranked Whole Foods highly on quality, selection, and trust. But a whopping 70% of consumers who don’t shop at Whole Foods cited “lower prices elsewhere” as a reason. Whole Foods was last among the 14 grocers mentioned in the survey on location convenience. It’s an interesting contrast to Amazon, which announced last month its intent to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in cash. The online retailer is known for having lower prices than competitors and for aggressively pushing convenient features including two-hour delivery and automatic reordering of groceries and other home products.
The survey found that 63% of shoppers frequent at least three different retailers for their standard grocery needs. Only 11% of consumers shop at just one store, instead preferring to make different types of purchases at different types of retailers: conventional, discount, specialty, or big-box stores. Morgan Stanley analyst Vincent Sinisi believes that this shows that consumer preferences will make it difficult for Amazon to dominate the entire grocery industry, as shoppers prefer a differentiated mix of options.
“With retailers across segments serving different consumer needs, we do not see food retail as a winner-take-all industry,” Sinisi wrote.
Another potential headwind to Amazon’s grocery ambitions is consumers’ ambivalence about making grocery purchases online: only 32% of survey respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to purchase groceries online. This is an increase, however, over two years ago when only 22% of consumers felt the same way. According to the survey, shoppers prefer to physically see and feel their items before they buy them and to pick out their own produce or other perishable items–the top reason for not shopping online for 84% of consumers. And for customers who do order groceries online, certain prepackaged items like coffee or breakfast cereals are significantly more popular than perishables like yogurt or seafood.
Source: Barron’s Next