YOUR OPINION MATTERS: Commissary headquarters hosts virtual focus groups to discuss benefit with single, enlisted service members
FORT LEE, Va. – The Defense Commissary Agency hosted several virtual focus groups March 8-9 that centered on young, single, enlisted service members living in the barracks, seeking their opinions and knowledge of their commissary benefit as well as their shopping habits.
“I think this is one of the most important groups to get information from,” said Marine Sgt.Maj. Michael Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director. “These young service members can benefit the most from taking advantage of the commissary, and we really need to know what they think about us.”
Service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force participated over the two-day event. They ranged in rank from E2 – E5 and were stationed worldwide.
Participants were asked a series of grocery shopping questions in a format that allowed them to have discussions with the facilitator and with each other.
Some of the key lessons learned were that service members are looking for healthy options when buying food and enjoy preparing it in their living spaces when possible. The majority found their commissary to be convenient to shop and competitive as far as selection of food items available in commercial grocery stores.
“I think the commissary is great, but I like to go vegan, vegetarian and purchase organic products,” one participant commented. “The commissary offers vegan meats, but I would like to see other vegan items such as cheeses and more organics.”
Some of the suggestions the service members recommended, such as online grocery ordering and payment, better-stocked shelves, faster checkout times and expanded healthy options, are currently being researched by DeCA to see if these are services and updates they can offer in the near future.
“I think these focus groups were a resounding success as they helped us understand a significant portion of our customer base and what they are looking for in a grocery store,” Saucedo said. “We are taking what these service members told us seriously and working diligently to implement some of their recommendations so we can live up to our vision of being the grocery provider of choice.”
As DeCA looks for more ways to better serve their deserving patrons, additional focus groups using different categories of shoppers are in the agency’s future.
“All of our patrons are equally important to us at the commissary, and we know they have great ideas on how we can improve the benefit we provide,” Saucedo added. “I encourage every customer to provide their input and suggestions through our customer satisfaction survey, the link which is provided on the bottom of every receipt.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.