Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

MAPP Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, The MAPP Centre

No 70: The haven of the self-service store – A study of the fruit and vegetable department’s influence on customer attitudes towards food chain stores

Tino Bech-Larsen ()
Additional contact information
Tino Bech-Larsen: The MAPP Centre, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business. The MAPP Centre, Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark

Abstract: As a result of the increased competition between self-service chains, retail managers try to strengthen store identity and customer loyalty to an increasing degree. In this respect a number of measures, as for example service management and direct marketing programmes, have been instigated. Most of these developments have concentrated on the peripheral spheres of the purchase decision situation.

More recently retail managers have concentrated their efforts on the departments believed to be most important to customers’ overall shopping experience and attitudes towards the store. So far, academic studies of which departments are the most important ones to customer attitudes, and how these attitudes are influenced by department specific factors, have been scarce, however.

Unlike most other departments of a self-service chain store, the fruit and vegetable department gives ample opportunity for differentiation and creation of store identity. This has been demonstrated by a few progressive retailers who changed the fruit and vegetable department into a haven* where the self-service customer gets an inspiring break from the stressful ventures in the aisles with pre-packed goods, which look alike in most self-service stores.

With an outset in broad range theories of consumer choice and environmental psychology, this paper discusses a number of reasons why the fruit and vegetable department can be one of the keys to chain differentiation and creation of positive customer attitudes to the store. Also the paper describes the results of two empirical studies (a focus group and a survey), which explore customer-perceived quality dimensions of the fruit and vegetable department and the extent to which these dimensions influence customer attitudes towards the department and towards the store in general.

Keywords: Consumer behaviour; Buying behaviour; Self-service chain stores; Fruits; Vegetables

19 pages, January 1, 2000

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