Satisfied Shoppers Defect Everyday

Measuring shopper satisfaction has been a main-stay for retailer consumer research instruments for decades.  As one of those that were charged with gauging the health and welfare of shoppers for several retailers, I have been wary of using ‘satisfaction’ as a predictive metric for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, “Very Satisfied” or “Satisfied” is a fleeting feeling.  I can be ‘very satisfied’ with a store or product, until a new and better one comes along.  Unfortunately in today’s retail environment, new options are seemingly a daily occurrence.

Let’s face it, most customer research is conducted to determine if shoppers approve of what retailers do everyday. Its value to the retailer is still valid, in that it affords the retailer to react to areas of it’s offering that appear to be deficient in the minds of their customers.

However, as a tool for predicting shopper defection and  resulting loss of market share,  most shopper research is woefully  ineffective.

In today’s hyper-intensive game of musical chairs for shoppers, retailers who are not preemptively seeking empirical indications of the stability of their customer base are ‘whistling past the bankruptcy court’.  Shopper satisfaction and high ratings in the areas of service, product quality and even shopping environment may be “false positive” in terms of vulnerability to new and improving competition.

There are metrics that can lead the retailer to better understanding their prospects for the future.  They include;

  1.  How many stores are your shoppers now shopping for all of their needs in your category?  If it is more than a year ago, this is a sign of likely future attrition.
  2. What percentage of your best shopper’s overall dollars in your category are you capturing.  If it is less than last year, look at which departments and categories are losing share of the shopper the greatest.
  3. If locational convenience is a key factor in shopper’s choice of where they shop, what percent of your shoppers and the market in general find you most convenient?
  4. If your transaction size is shrinking, which shopper segments are contributing the most to this loss.
  5. If traffic counts are down, what shopper trip types are contributing the most to this loss.

A host of other metrics both quantitative and qualitative, exist that are reliable predictors of attrition.  Taking the steps to incorporate those metrics into your shopper research methodology is key to being proactive in mitigating defection.  Without them,  you may be seeing more of your “Very Satisfied” shoppers at your competitor’s stores in the very near future!




From Mark Heckman Consulting

Mark Heckman is a retail consultant with over three decades of executive retail marketing and merchandising experience. His past assignments and clients include Hallmark Cards, Marsh Supermarkets, Randalls/Tom Thumb, Valassis, Inmar, KVAT, and many others.