Food safety at the supermarket is important to more Australian grocery buyers than proximity to home, good value, trading hours or the quality and range of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a new study from independent Australian research company Roy Morgan.

Well over half (57%) of grocery buyers aged 14+ cite food safety standards as a very important factor when deciding where to shop, followed by whether the store is near home or good value (both 55%).

Hygienically prepared food and a clean and tidy environment are each very important to 53% of shoppers. The quality of fresh produce ranks alongside convenient trading hours and low prices at 52% but more shoppers place a high importance on easy parking (51%) than the range of fresh fruit and vegetables (47%).

Other factors further down the list include clean and functional shopping carts (43%), range of brands (42%), weekly specials (41%) and being able to buy everything there (37%).

Perhaps surprisingly, fewer than one in four grocery buyers say discounts for regular shoppers or gasoline discounts are a central reason they choose a particular supermarket.

Warren Reid, group account manager for consumer products at Roy Morgan Research, said:

  • “With Aldi soon to open in the provinces of South Australia and Western Australia, Costco planning five new stores across Australia by the end of 2014, and Metcash undergoing a strategic review of its wholesale trading terms, the supermarket industry will see increased competition in the next 24 months.
  • “Understanding customers and the factors they say are important when choosing a supermarket is going to be even more critical than usual.
  • “However not all shoppers have the same priorities. For example food and hygiene factors rank high for Coles and Woolworths shoppers, price and value for Aldi, and convenience for IGA. Therefore growth strategies for each supermarket should take these differences into account.
  • “According to Roy Morgan’s new classification system Helix Personas, it’s the ‘Leading Lifestyles’ and ‘Today’s Families’ communities that are most concerned about food safety standards, while those in the ‘Metrotech’ community of educated urban professionals prioritize convenience. Helix Personas can pinpoint, down to a street level, where these different types of people live, giving national retailers an unprecedented panoramic view of their current or potential customers on any given block across the country."