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Best quality food overall was ranked of primary importance to just 1% of all of the adults surveyed in a recently released study of attitudes toward supermarkets and other food stores. Selection and quality ranked third behind price and convenience among nearly all of the age groups surveyed. Low prices matter most to the largest group of grocery shoppers.

Furthermore, men and women differ on what they consider the most important features of supermarkets, according to “Customer Focus 2008: Grocery,” by Baltimore-based Vertis Communications, a provider of retail advertising services. In general, the store’s prices and sales are most important to female shoppers, while convenience and service matter more to men.

Almost half, 48% of women between the ages of 35 and 49, said they valued price-related offerings, such as lowest everyday prices, best-advertised specials and store coupons, the most. This group of women accounts for 60% of all grocery shopping, according to the report.

Nearly as many, 47% of women aged 50 and older, and 46% of those between the ages of 18 and 34, agree. By contrast, while price-related offerings are important to approximately 30% of the male shoppers surveyed, 41% of the men aged 18 to 34 said they valued convenience, such as proximity to work or home, more than any other factor.

Nearly a quarter, 23% of men between the ages of 18 and 34, are most likely to shop at grocery stores close to home. This compares with just 17% of women in the same age group.

When deciding which grocery story to frequent, the bakery is the most important department, other than meat and produce, according to 27% of all survey participants. This percentage is consistent with Vertis’ 2006 grocery survey.

The importance of dairy and organic food sections has risen over the past two years among men aged 18 to 34. In the most recent survey, 13% of those shoppers rank dairy important versus 8% in 2006. Currently 10% of them consider organic food important, compared with just 6% two years ago.

The survey also suggests that attempts to promote the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and other heart-healthy elements of fish and other foods may be taking hold. Interest in the store’s seafood section rose from 5% two years ago to 10% among women in the 2008 study.

The importance of the deli section among men age 50 and older took a big jump, but its importance dropped among their female counterparts. Among the older men, 25% ranked it important in 2008, compared with 18% two years ago. Among older women, its importance fell to 21%, down from 25% in the 2006 survey.

More Hispanic Americans than others prefer to shop at super-sized grocery outlets instead of other chains that carry groceries. Nearly a quarter, 22% of Hispanic household decision makers, prefer super-sized grocery stores for perishable products, such as meat, produce, dairy and baked goods. This compares with 15% of non-Hispanic household decision makers.

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