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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0959-0552.htm

IJRDM 34,6

Consumer demographics, store attributes, and retail format choice in the US grocery market Jason M. Carpenter and Marguerite Moore
Department of Retailing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA Abstract
Purpose – To provide a general understanding of grocery consumers’ retail format choice in the US marketplace. Design/methodology/approach – A random sample of US grocery consumers (N ¼ 454) was surveyed using a self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistical techniques (regression, ANOVA) were used to evaluate the data. Findings – Identifies demographic groups who frequent specific formats (specialty grocers, traditional supermarkets, supercenters, warehouse clubs, internet grocers) and examines store attributes (e.g. price competitiveness, product selection, and atmosphere) as drivers of format choice. Research limitations/implications – The results included in this research were gathered and reported on an individual format basis. In order to capture consumer choices across a range of grocery retail formats, forcing respondents to compare formats was not initiated. In addition, data pertaining to whether consumers had access to each and every type of format in the study were not collected. Examination of how dimensions of consumer access limit or expand retail patronage behavior could also be highly beneficial to grocery retailers. Practical implications – This research provides grocery retailers that operate within the USA specific knowledge of the attributes that consumers consider to be most important when making format choices (e.g. cleanliness, price competitiveness, product assortment, courtesy of personnel), and identifies the demographic characteristics of these consumers. The results suggest marketing strategy implications for grocery retailers that operate in the US market. As competition in the sector continues to evolve and consumer demographics change within the US market, understanding the consumer-format choice linkage will be critical to retailer performance in the industry. Originality/value – This exploratory study uses demographics and store attributes as a framework for profiling consumers by their ultimate retail format choice. The paper is unique because there are few similar empirical studies focused on the US grocery sector. Keywords Retailing, Retail trade, Demographics, Store ambience, Consumer behaviour, United States of America Paper type Research paper

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International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Vol. 34 No. 6, 2006 pp. 434-452 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0959-0552 DOI 10.1108/09590550610667038

Introduction Competition in US grocery retailing has reached an unprecedented level of intensity. A recent series of consolidations and mergers, coupled with the emergence of new retail formats (e.g. supercenters and internet-only grocers) has radically modified the competitive landscape of the sector (US Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration, 2000). Much to the dismay of traditional supermarket retailers, full and/or partial lines of grocery products can now be found at supercenters such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target, as well as in other retail formats (e.g. specialty grocers, internet retailers, drug stores). Grocery products are also being offered online, although

growth in this format is considerably slower. Supermarket retailers believe that consumer cross-shopping among these formats poses a serious threat to traditional grocery stores (Gose, 2002; Progressive Grocer Report of the Grocery Industry, 1999; Taylor, 2003). Supercenters possess several key competitive advantages in comparison to traditional supermarkets, including the ability to sell items at lower prices and the ability to offer consumers the convenience of one-stop shopping. Likewise, specialty grocers are...
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