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Day Three: What makes a grocery store “sticky”? Convenience vs. Experience

In the last year I have become maniacally obsessed with food. I always try to put the best things into my body while balancing my insanely busy life. For me I'm really looking for the easiest, cheapest, highest quality option possible.


I have two local options for grocery shopping: there is Stop & Shop which I pass every night on my way home from work, and a Whole Foods that is about a mile and a half out of my way. I love shopping at Whole Foods. I love the displays, I love the quality of the product, I love the people who work in the store. One time I was looking for precut mangoes to use in my Ron Propeil food dehydrator (I will probably write about my buddy Ron later this month). I'm kind of an idiot when it comes to taking the pit out of the mango – and love that Whole Foods always has precut fruit.

One day Whole Foods was out of precut mangos and one of the guys in the produce section took it upon himself to go to the back, cut a mango,  put in a container, and gave me my mangos for free. He explained that it was unacceptable that they didn't have the product I expected when I expect it. I was shocked…I am pretty sure that the people who work at Stop and Shop don’t even know what a mango is. So when it comes to grocery shopping Whole Foods has my heart.  The quality of food is so much better, the selection is amazing, and I really like the in-store experience.

On the other hand I hate Stop & Shop with a passion.  Their store dirty, unorganized, and frequently out of stock. Yesterday they didn’t have broccoli….what kind of grocery store completely runs out of broccoli?

The customer service people at Stop and Shop are incredibly rude. I've gone through entire transaction without the customer service person saying a single word or even making eye contact. I've tried to use self checkout, had a problem scanning a barcode, and sat there for 10 min. while the service person was texting. I HATE Stop and Shop, but the thing is I shop there almost every day.

So what's the deal? For me as much as I love an amazing in-store experience, and really care about what Whole Foods stands for, I can’t get over my need for convenience and low cost. I'm willing to put up with a terrible experience and subpar quality to get in, get out, and get home faster. For me the Whole Foods trips have become kind of a weekend reward whereas the Stop & Shop trips are almost nightly necessity.

So why does this matter? You need to meet people’s basic needs before you can capitalize on providing them the best experience possible. My brand loyalty can't overcome my basic need for convenience.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs outlines human needs starting with the most basic of the bottom and moving to high-level needs like self enlightenment at the top. For me when it comes to grocery shopping I can put the needs in the middle of the pyramid like my own enjoyment of the experience, above my baseline level needs of convenience cost.

This also means that while I go to Stop and Shop frequently, I'm by no means loyal to them. Right now they're winning solely on location. If a Whole Foods were to open closer to me Stop and Shop would lose me as a customer forever. So while convenience or location may drive frequency of visit, it does not build true customer loyalty.

Are there stores that you hate going to but go anyway because it is more convenient?


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