Which Are the Most Trusted Grocery Retailers in the U.S.?

BrandSpark International announced the fifth annual grocery edition of its BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards, as voted by American shoppers. The marketing firm surveyed 10,082 Americans in the BrandSpark American Grocery Trust Study to capture their honest opinions of which grocery retailers they trust the most.

Trust leaders were identified by eight store formats nationally, in four major regions, across 36 key attributes, and the top five grocery retailers nationally, BrandSpark International reported in a press release. 

“Now that the holidays have passed, retailers need to work on building a strong 2023 by prioritizing trust-building initiatives with consumers”, said Adam Bellisario, AVP BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards.

“As inflation continues to hit grocery categories heavily, conventional stores with strong private label offerings are going to be popular with consumers because they can meet their needs in terms of price and effective options,” said Philip Scrutton, VP of Shopper Insights, BrandSpark International.

In the BrandSpark American Grocery Trust Study, 10,082 American shoppers determined the 2023 BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards winners, and results are ranked based on the most significant number of votes.

Related Article: Inflation and its Impact on Consumer Spending in 2023

Consumers’ unaided write-in votes determine brand citations of the ‘most trusted’ retailer by format for their ‘most trusted’ retailer. The brand(s) voted most trusted is/are listed as Rank #1. Any brand Ranked 1-3 is considered a “Top 3 Trust Leader”, any brand Ranked 4-5 is regarded as a “Top 5 Trust Leader”, and any brand Ranked 6-10 is considered a “Top 10 Trust Leader”, having garnered a significant trust share in the category.

Brand citations as the ‘most trusted’ overall retailer and ‘most trusted’ by attribute are determined by consumers choosing from a list of the 66 largest grocery retailers nationally.

“We already see retailers like Walmart and Aldi performing very well nationally. Both brands not only have a powerful presence but offer consumers attractive private label options offering greater value than national brands, which is very attractive to consumers who will continue to see their grocery budgets being stretched. Despite inflation, the trust drivers are remarkably stable – suggesting that retailers should stick to their strategies,” Scrutton noted.

Notable findings regarding the most important drivers of grocer trust (attributes)

  • Aldi, H-E-B, and Walmart are the most trusted for affordability.
  • H-E-B, Walmart, and Kroger are strongest for store brand/private label products.
  • H-E-B, ShopRite, and Kroger deliver on fresh produce.
  • H-E-B is most trusted for quality fresh food and an enjoyable in-store experience.
  • Kroger, H-E-B, and ShopRite deliver the most valuable circulars.
  • Walmart is #1 for curbside pickup, while Amazon Fresh leads for delivery.

Notable findings regarding trust across eight key store formats

  • Aldi is the most trusted discount and small format grocer, and Walmart is the most trusted conventional Grocer nationally but faces some stiff competition regionally where ShopRite is #1 in the Northeast. Kroger is #1 in the Midwest.
  • CVS is the most trusted pharmacy chain ahead of Walgreens, but we now see that Walmart Pharmacy is in the third position, posing a threat to the two major national chains.

Other findings

  • Rapidly expanding “Dollar Store” retailers Dollar General, Dollar Tree had the highest shopper reach increase in 2022, with Dollar General topping the list as the most trusted Dollar Store Chain.
  • 2022 saw 44% of shoppers ordering groceries online, consistent with 45% in 2021. Half of these shoppers ordered from Walmart vs. 1 in 6 from Amazon Fresh, but Amazon Fresh achieved the greatest growth.
  • Club stores strengthened trust with existing members, who relied on them even more in 2022 for bulk orders at fair prices. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sam’s Club, and Costco Wholesale all increased trust with their own shoppers.
  • Grocer Food Lion built trust with fair prices and loyalty rewards, and it paid off: achieving the highest trust growth, increasing their trust score, and jumping from #7 to #4 for most trusted grocery retailer for value since 2021.
  • Among own shoppers, H-E-B has an impressive lead in trust compared with all other grocery stores covered in the Study.

According to the BrandSpark International study, trust plays an integral role in deciding where to shop, especially during these challenging inflationary times. There is a risk that if customers switch grocery retailers now, they may not return even when the cost of living pressures ease.

“This is an important moment for retailers to build trust with shoppers, and they can do so by communicating why they are trusted and how they plan to help Americans through this,” said Adam Bellisario.

Founded in 2001, BrandSpark International is a marketing research firm that combines real-world omnichannel consumer insights with a deep understanding of competitive context, providing its clients with highly actionable insights. The BrandSpark/Newsweek Partnership aims to make shopping easier for Americans.

“We are excited to partner with Newsweek, one of the world’s most recognizable media brands, which will be promoting the full list of winners to ensure that consumers have the most reliable shopping information available to them,” said Robert Levy, President of BrandSpark International.