Morrisons’ decision to employ a market research firm to conduct surveys with its customers is, on the face of things, nothing out of the ordinary.

Morrisons’ decision to employ a market research firm to conduct surveys with its customers is, on the face of things, nothing out of the ordinary.

It’s a tactic that the big four, and indeed grocers outside of the leading market players, regularly use to better understand their shoppers and their changing habits in order to improve their business.

Tesco’s new boss Dave Lewis has employed the tactic to understand Clubcard users, offering them the chance to provide their feedback on the state of the store, customer service and product availability via an online survey at the end of every shopping trip.

But shoppers at Morrisons stores in and around London told Retail Week that some rather more intriguing questions have been asked of them, particularly those surrounding its Market Street proposition.  

Morrisons’ customers revealed that its bakery, meat and fish counters have been included in the survey, with questions reportedly asking them how they would feel if they were to be removed from stores.

While it is jumping the gun somewhat to say that these questions are a precursor for the end of Market Street, they raise the prospect that the grocer is at least entertaining the idea of changing the way it approaches its fresh offer.

The grocer’s chairman Andy Higginson has emphasised the need for Morrisons to become “unique” and rediscover some of the magic it had under founder Sir Ken Morrison.   

Morrisons’ key differentiators are its focus on fresh, its in-house food capability and its vertical integration, presumably things that new boss David Potts will want to draw upon in order to achieve Higginson’s aims.

And let’s not forget Potts’ very clear pledge to listen to customers “as hard as I possibly can” in order to develop his strategy. Questioning his shoppers on all aspects of their shopping experience – even those elements he might see as integral to the retailer moving forward – is paramount in doing this.

It would therefore be wrong at this stage to put two and two together and come up with seven.

But is it conceivable for the future of Market Street to be under threat? The short answer to that is: yes.

Potts will be scrutinising the performance of all areas of Morrisons stores as he bids to turn around the embattled grocer. Butchers, bakers and fishmongers will not be spared the gaze of his microscope out of sentiment.

If sales of branded bread, pre-packaged meat and frozen fish in the aisles are found to be outperforming Morrisons’ Market Street counters, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Potts will look to restructure that side of the business and perhaps seek more vital cost savings.

More importantly, though, Potts wants to regain trading momentum in supermarkets across the Morrisons estate. The only question he will want to know the answer to is whether Market Street will enable him to do that.