Is It About the Experience or the Deals?
One thing I've learned since writing this blog for the last year is that shoppers don't just want a bunch of bananas or a gallon of milk. You want to enjoy the experience of buying those things. At least that's what your comments made me believe when I recently wrote about Wegmans, a grocery store chain that's as luxurious as Whole Foods but as cheap as Giant. Many of you wrote about the good prices at Wegmans but you mostly gushed about the store itself.
Take for example "skipper7," who writes, "As big as [Wegmans is] I feel like this is my corner grocer, especially in the seafood and meat department where Anne knows what portion sizes I look for in a steak or pork chop."
Or "FormerUpstater," who wrote, "At Wegmans, they have a gazillion check-out lines, ALL of which are open, and even though there are thousands of people in the store you never have to wait more than five minutes to start checking out!"
There were gripes about the dirt factor in Giant and Safeway, the long lines, the bruised produce and the less than friendly employees. And those comments are matched with the lack of deals there, too.
That also explains your comments when I wrote about C-mart, a discount store in Landover that recently closed its doors for good last month. You were basically shopping in a warehouse filled with everything from furniture to shoes. People either loved it or hated it. And those who hated it said so because of the atmosphere and the quality of the items. Never mind the huge discounts.
So do we shoppers value the shopping experience over getting good deals? Only if you have the money, says Pam Danziger, a retail industry consultant with Unity Marketing and author of "Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience." The state of our economy will force most people to look for deals, no matter how unpleasant the shopping experience. But families who have the funds to spend a little more will seek out poshness when they run out for a gallon of milk.
"There are consumers who are simply shopping for price because they have to," she says. "There are lots of people who feel this [recession] but they don't feel it as much. They aren't driven solely by price. They'll spend time in a store that is more delightful than going to the plain old grocery store."
So what's more important to you: cheap prices or shopping in comfort? Do you like to hunt for good deals or are you willing to pay a little extra to just pick up an item and go?
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