THE idea of the “one stop shop” is what makes a supermarket such an attraction when it comes to buying fresh produce, a Curtin University professor told the International Horticultural Convention in Brisbane last week.
Professor Peter Batt delivered his address to a room of international delegates on the topic of how consumers differentiate between fresh food stores.
The Perth Metropolitan Market (Market City) commissioned the study to identify how consumers choose between the alternative retail stores, with the underlying objective of reducing the decline in patronage as more fresh produce moves directly from growers to the major chain stores.
Retail outlets were separated into four categories: the major supermarkets; the independent supermarkets; independent greengrocers; and the growers’ direct markets.
Research students conducted 480 interviews with household buyers within shopping centres at different times of the day to get a thorough cross-section.
A review of consumer behaviour literature identified three key factors to fresh produce purchase decisions- the quality of the offer; a competitive price; and convenience.
Professor Batt said it was the major chains’ ability to offer all three of these which gave them a significant advantage.
For the independent supermarkets, which are primarily located closer to the consumers’ place of residence, convenience was the key determining attribute.
For the independent greengrocers, superior quality was most important, while for the grower direct markets, a competitive price was considered to be the most influential
Within the figures collected on attributes which attracted shoppers to their places of purchase, greengrocers scored highest under “friendly staff” (21.1 per cent) compared to supermarkets at 4.5pc.
The greengrocer also scored 43.1pc under “fresh produce” followed by the grower direct markets scoring 41.9pc, the supermarkets with 29.3pc, and the independent supermarkets with 24.8pc.
He said it was interesting to note the smaller greengrocers moving into other fields such as deli products and niche products in order to compete.
“Low price isn’t necessarily everything,” he said.
Professor Batt gave a personal example of the difference with staff education and personal service between major retailers and independent stores.
While shopping with his research students at a major store, the group purchased a bag of nashis, which the young check-out person scanned through as Granny Smith apples.
Professor Batt said it was important to realise shoppers often frequented multiple stores. One trend in particular was for consumers to make a bulk purchase from a major supermarket at one point and then do “top up” shopping at independent stores at another time in the week.
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