Many successful stores say that the key to operating at a profit is to develop a loyal following. Each of the large kosher independents said they depend on such a base to maintain a healthy profit margin.
Studies have shown that the largest supermarket chains invest a great deal into shopper loyalty programs but the results show that the return may not be as great as one would expect.
On average, the Supermarket News study showed shoppers return to the same supermarket twice a month.
According to some of the independent kosher supermarket stores, it is almost double in their stores, but they attribute the increased frequency to the weekly Shabbos shopping.
Said one: “Yes, we are all creatures of habit and many of our shoppers come into the store on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and more or less follow the same aisle route as the week before.”
This is especially true for busy housewives who frequently mimic the past week’s fare with a few differences. For one, many of the shoppers entertain, either children or guests and have to adjust their shopping lists.
Second, they tend to adjust their own orders depending on their social commitments. “A shopper who has been invited to a Bar Mitzvah lunch will order less than perhaps a week before.”
Loyalty, it seems, has its limits. Increasingly, some price-conscious shoppers are splitting their purchases between items they like in one store to deeply discounted prices in another store.
Leah, a 52-year old bookkeeper, buys all her meats at Pomegranate but frequents the nearby Mountain Foods for everything else. Some marketers say that the kosher independents have not invested as much as they should have to increase and maintain shoppers loyal to the store. They say that the stores rarely communicate with their core shoppers, missing out on one of the most important programs a supermarket should support.