Trader Joe Maintains Value Lead Over Whole Foods

Ted MarzilliCEO YouGov Direct
September 05, 2013, 2:44 PM GMT+0

Whole Foods may have to do more than adopt traditional discount tactics if it wants to shake its image as a pricey grocery chain. While affluent US consumers rate both Whole Foods and rival Trader Joe’s with a similar Quality score, Trader Joe’s rates much higher on Value and is currently at its highest point of the year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods has been stocking some less expensive goods and holding nationwide one-day “flash” sales. While these tactics seemingly have not impacted Quality scores for the grocery chain, they also seem to have not helped the chain’s value perception since mid-June either.

Since June 17th, when Whole Foods hit its Value perception high of the year, the chain has trended downward now scoring more negative than positive feedback. Whole Food’s Value perception among affluent consumers is well below the average for the grocery sector as a whole.

In contrast, after a three-week lull in July, Trader Joe’s has seen its Value perception among affluent consumers extend to a current 2013 high, positioning it well above the grocery sector average.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were measured with two of YouGov BrandIndex’s measurements: 1) Value, which asks respondents: "Does it provide good or poor value for what you pay?"; and 2) Quality, which asks respondents: "Is it high quality or low quality?" Results were screened for adults age 18+ with income of $100,000 and over. 

A score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

Since the beginning of 2013, both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have remained close in Quality scores, ranging from 57 to 64, well above the grocery sector average of around 19 and 20.
For most of 2013, Trader Joe hovered in the 35 – 40 Value score range, except for a short dip during the first three weeks of July, when it reached a 23 score. However, it has been steadily rising since then to reach its current score of 44, the highest of the year.

Whole Foods Value perception has been more volatile during 2013, bouncing from peaks of 6 to lows of -16. Since its 2013 high of 6 on June 17th, Whole Foods has seen its Value score slide again to -9 on August 23rd, then inching up to its current -6 score.

By comparison to both brands, the grocery sector average has been in the 10 – 11 score range and is currently at 12.

Quality: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Grocery Sector

Quality: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Grocery Sector

Value: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Grocery Sector

Value: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Grocery Sector

Images courtesy of Getty Images.