The Guardian investigate cynical price reduction claims at supermarkets

22Feb10

Supermarket advertising in the UK seems to largely revolve around price reduction or celebrity chef endorsement. The quality of the food, or how to do something new and different with it, also gets an occasional mention.

But when was the last time you perceived you gained great value, or even savings, from the products you purchased at a supermarket? I believe it happens more often than you think – ask Waitrose and Aldi customers for example. But the larger supermarket chains that dominate the the middle ground have perhaps the harder task in demonstrating differentiation with their value offering, either from price savings or product quality.

In recent weeks there have been reports in the UK press that the prices of some products increased by more than 50% in supermarkets during the run up to Christmas. Examples compared prices for batteries and fizzy drinks from December and earlier in 2009 and appeared to support this price hike claim.

But now The Guardian newspaper have claimed that the majority of price reductions by Tesco and Asda were cuts of only 1p per item; while more items saw increases of 10p or over in the same period from these supermarkets. The Guardian infer there is cynical price manipulation by the supermarkets.

Without all the data, which changes daily, for all the major supermarkets and tracked over a number of months; it’s very difficult to draw a robust independent conclusion. But it’s easy to see how stories such as this fuel the perception that supermarket prices, on the whole, aren’t getting any cheaper.

Read the comment in Marketing Week: Here

Tesco’s response to the suggestion of price manipulation was, “We do not manipulate prices in this cynical way.”

If only consumer perception was as easy to sway as it was to issue this simple denial.

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