A time to shine, when disasters strike: SG poll

January 03, 2012

All eyes are on supermarkets when natural disasters occur. How stores perform can affect their future standing in a community.

The nation has coped with plenty of natural disasters lately – from summertime hurricanes to a surprise October snowstorm that paralyzed much of New England and the mid-Atlantic, and to a decimating Plains States white-out just before winter’s official onset.

Because supermarkets are primary food resources and community hubs, consumers look to them for stellar behavior when disasters strike. What do people specifically want food stores to do at these times, and how do they reward the ones that come through in the clutch?

An exclusive SupermarketGuru.com Quick Poll has the answers, from a national respondent base that largely (70%) has first-hand experience with an earthquake, hurricane, flood or fire in their area.

Only 10% of consumers felt their primary supermarket behaved “above and beyond expectations”; an identical 10% were “disappointed” in the store’s performance. By comparison, 42% “didn’t know or didn’t notice a difference,” and 28% felt the store performed “as expected.”

The specific actions sought by the majority of consumers (who were able to give multiple responses):
•    Don’t price gouge (77%)
•    Keep ample amounts of food, beverage, and hard goods necessities available (77%)
•    Do whatever they could to support local police, fire and rescue teams (71%)
•    Display items such as bottled water, batteries, manual can openers, ice and coolers prominently to help quicken store trips (70%)
•    Donate to local food charities (60%)

Could stores that perform well in emergency situations improve their future prospects and win primary shoppers from competitors in their area? Yes, according to survey findings. Nearly half of respondents (48%) said they’d “likely give a try” and consider switching their primary shopping to the store that excels in tough circumstances. Nearly one-quarter (23%) said “definitely.” Another 18% said they’d “have to see if their assortment and prices are in line with our tastes and budgets.”

If a primary supermarket excelled as a community resource during a disaster, how would shoppers react? Three out of four (76%) would tell friends and family about it; more than half (61%) would give the store a greater share of their business; and one-third (33%) would social media to tell people about it, the survey showed.