Wegmans, Walgreen Top Satisfaction Study

Wegmans and Walgreen score highest in customer satisfaction in the grocery and drugstore segments, according to a consumer satisfaction study by Satmetrix, Nain & Co.

The Net Promoter Industry Report, an e-mail survey of 23,000 American consumers, is notable for the depth of its analysis, especially for its comparison and ranking of competitive factors in different retail sectors.

The key to the ranking of individual companies is the division of shoppers into three classes. “Promoters” are loyal enthusiasts who recommend a store to others; “passives” are satisfied but unenthusiastic; and “detractors” are unhappy customers who are liable to spread negative word-of-mouth. A company’s overall score comes from the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.

The top three players in the grocery/supermarket category were Wegmans, with a score of 61 (73 percent promoters minus 12 percent detractors); H-E-B, with 59 (69 percent promoters, 10 percent detractors); and Publix with 58 (67/9). Among pharmacies, the top scorers were Walgreens with 42 (58 percent promoters minus 14 percent detractors); Walmart with 38 (57/19) and CVS with 28 (48/20).

Almost all the retailers in the grocery and drugstore segments of the study, even the lowest-scoring ones, have more promoters than detractors. Brendan Rocks, a data scientist with Satmetrix, says retailers have a natural advantage in this paradigm: “There’s a good argument that retail stores are just inherently more recommendable than” other sectors like health care or cable/internet service. Rocks also notes that American consumers have tended to be more likely in general to recommend than consumers in many western European countries (although a little less so than those in China or Mexico).

The study includes in-depth breakdowns for each company under consideration. These take the form of ranking by factors, broadly divided into “relationship drivers” and “industry drivers,” such as “quality of food” and “online experience.” In addition to giving a score for each factor, the study ranks its overall importance by determining the correlation between a high score and a respondent’s willingness to recommend the store overall. For instance, Wegmans, the top grocer, scores about nine on a 10-point scale for “treats customers fairly”—a factor that correlates highly (0.77 out of a possible 1.0) with likeliness to recommend.

Factor correlations are calculated separately for every retailer, and reflect the mutual priorities of individual retailers and their customers. For example, in the pharmacy segment, the “online experience” correlation stands at 0.68 for Walgreen, the top company, and 0.43 for CVS Caremark, which came in third. Rocks points out that online shopping hasn’t made much of an inroad in pharmacies, which would suppress the correlation overall.

Rocks says the variance between companies might be something of a self-reinforcing situation: “A reasonable a priori guess might be that [Walgreen is] just better at the online experience, and this is appreciated by their customers.”