Last year, I took to shopping at ALDI, the German grocery store chain that has been rapidly expanding in the US. It has the fastest growth of any grocery store chain worldwide, around 30+% a year. (Two brothers took over their mother’s market in 1946 and created one of the worlds largest privately held companies, making them the richest men in Germany. But I digress.)
I originally went to ALDI to save a bit of money on my groceries, as others told me they shopped there and the quality was comparable to other stores, sometimes better. I didn’t really believe it, but I knew ALDI had lower prices, so I tried it, even though the grocery cart rents for a quarter, and you should bring your own grocery bags (thank you farm shows).
Checking out after my first foray, I was amazed at my savings! It was at least a third, and probably more than half off of what I usually spent. When I got home and tried the store-brand products, the quality was better than my usual brand-name favorites. As I continued to shop there, the speed of checkout became one of the best things.
I still thought the other grocery stores were fine and I would go back when I wanted to, but something crazy happened along the way. When I went to my former grocery store, which had always pleased me in the past, I was dissatisfied. I compared prices on virtually the same goods and saw no reason to pay $1 more for a loaf of bread, or 50 cents more for a carton of eggs.
And the checkout clerk was impossibly slow. S. L. O. W. What had been perfectly acceptable before was now horrific. I could scream waiting in every check out line in every other store now, because I had become used to the speed at ALDI. I realized I now have increased expectations….which translates into dissatisfaction with Walmart, with Cub, with every other checkout line in America.
I am doing a brand-switching study right now, and one of the respondents keyed me in on something very important…the difference between satisfaction and loyalty. Satisfaction is when you are happy with what you have and you continue to purchase it. Loyalty is when you’re not happy with what you have and you go buy another one, hoping it will be better, or believing there is nothing better out there. Few companies are able to develop this kind of loyalty, so the rest of us have to work on maintaining and increasing satisfaction.
That means keeping track of expectations, so when they increase, we are ready with products and services that meet those higher expectations. Or maybe it’s researching expectations, so we have the products and services that raise the markets expectations, and brings more customers to our products and services.
Does ALDI have a butcher on-site? NOPE. Do they sell the kind of coffee I like? NO. Do they have a bakery, a restaurant, a deli? NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
But they have good, sometimes great, food at prices that I can’t believe they can offer. More than that, I get in and out fast. The employees are friendly and hard working. And it has spoiled me for any other grocery store.
What can you do to spoil your customers for any other supplier?