For the fourth of our 12-month long series of mystery shopping visits, England Marketing visited Swindon, in Wiltshire, where Morrisons came out clearly on top for the second month running.
Again, the Bradford-based chain scored particularly well on stock levels, attractive displays and range of fresh produce – both fruit and vegetables, along with range of aisle ends, cleanliness of store inside and out and helpfulness of their staff.
The two runners up were M&S and Lidl. Lidl particularly scored highly on stock levels and range of produce, signage and cleanliness of store inside and out, and, M&S scored highly for style of packaging and also store cleanliness inside and out.
The supermarkets which were rated the lowest were Asda and Co-op. The areas in which Asda scored particularly badly were the helpfulness of staff, stock levels and attractiveness of displays. The Co-op, however, scored badly in the effectiveness of promotions for both fruit and vegetables and the range of aisle ends, but staff were rated higher than Asda, for their willingness to help.
The in-store messages and appeal of signage for fresh produce was rated most highly in Lidl during the mystery shop in Swindon.
As part of the mystery shopping research, England Marketing ask a different question of the fresh produce aisle staff each month. The question this month was:
“My husband/son/daughter/mum/work colleague has got diabetes, what types of fruit or vegetables would you recommend they eat?”
Most of the staff asked were helpful, with Morrisons and M&S scoring highly but Asda scored the lowest. The staff generally felt they were not qualified to offer this sort of advice but were willing to Google it for us or offer another member of staff to talk to.
* We commissioned England Marketing to undertake a rolling programme of in-store mystery shopping visits across the top nine UK food retailers; Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose, Co-op, Aldi and Lidl.
The mystery shopping cycle will feature a visit to one store in each chain, in a different region each month, as the research team both gathers first-hand insight on the presentation of the fresh produce in-store and also tests the knowledge of the staff working in the fresh produce aisles with topical and reasonably straightforward questions.
In doing so, we hope to highlight best practice and also pinpoint areas of weakness. If this information is used effectively, then we will be going some way towards achieving our objective as a publication – to make the fresh produce industry more robust and improve the industry’s sales.
Whilst we understand that rating the appearance of a supermarket aisle can be subjective, England Marketing will be carrying out all of this research and has been tasked to introduce as much science as possible into the process. Using a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the lowest mark and 5 the highest, the researchers visiting the stores are fully briefed on the scales for data collection and have been given detailed descriptors for each score.