Specialty grocery stores seem to have the recipe for success when it comes to customer experience. In Leger’s “2018 Wow Customer Experience Index” for Ontario, Farm Boy was ranked number one in customer experience, followed by Fortinos and Longo’s. In Quebec, natural grocery chain Avril was rated number-one in customer experience.
“The smaller, specialty concept grocery stores tend to come out on top, which isn’t too much of a surprise because of the variables that make up the index,” says Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Leger in Montreal.
The ranking is based on an evaluation of the customer experience at retailers in various sectors via online surveys with more than 15,000 Ontarians and 15,000 Quebeckers. Each retailer was assessed by 400 of its recent customers, from mid-September to mid-October. There are 16 variables, including store ambiance, staff courtesy, sense of belonging, product quality, and drive and innovation.
“Contrary to traditional supermarkets, the smaller, specialty stores always have new brands and new products,” says Bourque. “At Farm Boy, for example, a lot of what they do is fresh, ready-to-eat [foods] and there’s always something new on the menu. So, it’s hard for a traditional store to compete with what the smaller ones are doing.”
In Quebec, Avril “is in a class of their own,” says Bourque. “There’s a higher-end look and feel to the store, and it’s extremely lifestyle-oriented. It’s all about healthy living.”
Metro and IGA are “pretty much on par” for indicators such as store layout, store ambiance, price and variety, says Bourque. “It’s really the loyalty program at Metro [Metro & Moi] that allows them to be on top.”
Frozen food retail chain M&M Food Market, which was included in the study for the first time, was ranked the number-one retailer overall in customer experience in Ontario. (Only full-service grocers are included in the supermarket ranking so M&M Food Market is not on that list.) Rounding out the top five overall are Bath & Body Works, Penningtons, Lee Valley Tools and Lush.
“Usually the top 10 [retailers] are about treating yourself, the smells, the looks—that’s why beauty and specialty stores climb to the top of the overall ranking,” says Bourque. “So to see M&M, which has a unique concept in the food business, come out on top is actually surprising.”
The reason, however, may be the company’s rebrand in 2016, which included a name change from M&M Meat Shops to M&M Food Market, a new store design, expanded product offering and packaging.
“There’s been some remodeling and the menu has changed extensively, adapting to changing taste of Canadians, and now it’s more of a shopping experience,” says Bourque. “So potentially it’s paying off.”
ONTARIO SUPERMARKET CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE RANKING
- Farm Boy 80.9
- Fortinos 76.1
- Longo’s 72.1
- Whole Foods 71.3
- Zehrs 70.1
- Real Canadian Superstore (RCSS) 69.4
- Costco 69.2
- Sobeys 67.7
- Your Independent Grocer 67.6
- Loblaws 64.1
QUEBEC SUPERMARKET CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE RANKING
- Avril 85.5
- Metro 83.7
- IGA 78.6
- Super C 75.6
- Maxi 74.2
- Rachelle-Béry 71.4
- Provigo Le Marché 66.9
- Provigo 66.8
- Marché Adonis 64.8
- Le Jardin Mobile 61.9