H-E-B has regained the top position in the dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index for 2022, knocking former leader Amazon down to third place, behind second-place finisher Costco Wholesale.
While Amazon’s convenience and ecommerce capabilities during the pandemic led the company to the first-place finish in the previous two years, “H-E-B reclaimed the top spot due to their superior ability to deliver a combination of better savings and better-quality experience/assortment,” according to dunnhumby.
The survey combines financial data from Edge Ascential with dunnhumby’s own annual survey of 10,000 American grocery shoppers, conducted in November 2022. It also incorporated survey data from 20,000 consumers in October 2021 and 10,000 consumers last May. The surveys seek insights around five drivers of the value proposition: price, promotions and rewards; speed and convenience; quality; digital, and operations.
Rounding out the top 15 grocers in the survey, in order, were:
#5 Sam’s Club
#6 Market Basket
#7 Amazon Fresh
#8 Trader Joe’s
#10 BJ’s Wholesale
#14 Walmart Neighborhood Market
The survey found that H-E-B ranks in the top quartile in each of the value-proposition pillars studied, except “speed and convenience,” where it achieved an average ranking.
“It delivers many benefits without asking its customers to trade-off,” the report concluded.
Market Basket is the next highest mainstream regional supermarket chain in the report and appears to focus on driving its competitive advantage in certain pillars at the expense of others, according to dunnhumby. The chain ranks highly in the “quality” and “price, promotions and rewards” pillars, while ranking in the bottom quartile in “digital” and “speed and convenience.”
Kroger, meanwhile, attained average rankings in “price, promotions and rewards” and “quality,” but was not among market leaders in any single pillar. It landed in the second quartile of retailers in the study. Albertsons, meanwhile, landed on the border of the third and fourth quartile overall, with a ranking of 47, due to vulnerabilities in “price, promotions and rewards” and “quality,” despite being strong at both saving customers time and seamlessness, the report found.
Among the survey’s other findings:
• Online grocery shows staying power. The percentage of Americans shopping online for groceries increased from 39% to 50% during the pandemic, and more than half of those people remained online grocery shoppers in 2022. As a result, there are 9.4 million more omnichannel households today than there were in 2019, with a combined grocery budget of $4.9 billion.
• The leaders are growing faster than the laggards. Retailers in the top quartile have an average compounded average growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% compared to third-quartile retailers, with a 3.2% CAGR. In addition, 59% of customers of first quartile retailers cite a strong emotional connection with the retailers, compared to 45% of customers of third quartile retailers.
• Retailers improve their online experiences. More than half — 52% — of customers of top-quartile retailers said they have an easy online shopping experience, up 13% from 2019. The survey’s top six retailers for digital are 1) Amazon, 2) Amazon Fresh, 3) Target, 4) Sam’s Club, 5) Walmart and 6) Walmart Neighborhood Market.
• Club stores gain momentum. In the 2019 survey, no club store ranked higher than #7, but this year Costco (#2) and Sam’s Club (#5) both made the top five, and BJ’s Wholesale (#10) was the most improved retailer in the survey, climbing from 27th place in 2019.
Other retailers that moved up in the rankings included Schnucks (up 16 spots) Food Lion (up 14 spots), Food4Less/FoodsCo (up 12 spots), Weis (up 10 spots up) and Food City (up nine spots).
“These five retailers have two things most in common: They displayed superior ability to navigate supply chain issues by improving their ranking in the operations pillar, which measures out-of-stock perceptions among other things, and they have existing strengths or made significant gains in their competitive position on saving customers money,” dunnhumby said.