Time to call out competitors for bad service

July 01, 2011

Savings aren’t the only game in town. Supermarkets should tout service to their advantage.

Maybe supermarkets are chasing consumers with the wrong marketing strategies and messages – at least where low-priced competitors are concerned.

Rather than vie for trips on the basis of price vs. Sam’s Club, Walmart and similar operators – a fight they can’t win – why not call these operators out for bad service? Imagine a media campaign that openly asks shoppers, “Why would you pay $50 for bad service?”  

Indeed, why do wholesale club members pay annual fees to access cavernous bare bone stores that require travel to reach, tolerance to navigate, and will power to avoid overbuying large-package quantities? Are the values that compelling when the discomforts are figured in?  How do savings calculate against extra time spent?

The lack of service is appalling to many – and can be picked on in media campaigns if supermarkets choose to call out these trip stealers.

In a Consumer Reports phone survey of more than 1,000 adult subscribers in March, respondents ranked Sam’s Club and Walmart “among the worst in areas such as buying small appliances, electronics, cell phones and groceries,” noted a Reuters account.

Nearly two-thirds of retail customers (64%) said they’ve walked out of stores due to poor assistance, the survey also showed.

The Lempert Report believes service is a hot button for consumers today because they’re worn out by savings strategies that have no end in sight. In the midst of making their household budgets work, stores that also serve them well (like Trader Joe’s) stand out as memorable relief.