When Supermarket Consumers get Stocked in the Middle

Torben Hansen, Jan Møller Jensen, Hans Stubbe Solgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether consumer supermarket satisfaction is influenced by the mere composition of consumers' preference structure, as opposed to more widespread approaches where consumer satisfaction is regarded as the degree to which consumer expectations and/or preferences are met.
Design/methodology/approach – Survey data were collected from 130 consumers using self-administered questionnaires. Structural equation modelling was used to test the authors' proposed hypotheses.
Findings – According to consumers, not many supermarkets offer high quality at low prices, suggesting that consumers with a high-quality/low-price preference structure should be disconfirmed and thus dissatisfied. However, this study finds that – when patronising discount stores and upscale stores – consumers who attach high weight to quality and price are likely to become more satisfied than consumers who attach only medium weight to both parameters. For traditional supermarkets (i.e. supermarkets offering medium quality at medium prices) satisfaction occurs equally for both groups of consumers.
Practical implications – Consumers' level of satisfaction with various retailers may not solely be determined by matching preferences with retail offerings, but may also be based on considerations of possibilities for mental justification within a certain preference structure. It is therefore important that managers seek to understand the process of mental justification that may be associated with their offerings, and also the various possibilities for offering mental markers (i.e. anything the consumer can use for the purpose of gaining mental justification of her/his supermarket choices) to be used by consumers.
Originality/value – The authors' results suggest that retailers providing medium quality at medium prices are “stocked in the middle” even though their value package may seem fair when calculated as value=quality/price. Specifically, consumers with a high-quality/low-price preference structure can more easily justify visits to retailers providing either high quality at high prices or low quality at low prices; this being the case even though their value preference is only partially served
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)836-850
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Denmark
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Consumer Satisfaction
  • Supermarkets
  • Consumer Store Preferences
  • Mental Justification
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Structural Equation Modelling

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