Saturday, 17 January 2009

Unit Pricing Cuts Both Ways

I wrote glowingly of Woolworths's Unit Pricing scheme just days ago, and today I was pleased to see that ALDI's also has it. As an exercise, I decided to compare the unit prices of items on my grocery list, and this is the result:

Item ALDI's Woolworths
---- ------ ----------
Light milk $1.40/litre $2.63/litre
Wholemeal bread $0.28/100g $0.59/100g
Free range eggs $0.69/100g $0.72/100g
Low fat yoghurt $0.47/100g $0.59/100g
Honey (squeezable pack) $0.60/100g $1.00/100g
Cranberry juice $2.79/litre $3.86/litre
Carrots $1.25/kg $1.29/kg
Beans $7.00/kg $2.98/kg
Cashews $1.74/100g $1.86/100g
Kitchen towels $0.75/roll $0.95/roll
Vit B (Benifex/Berocca) $0.35/unit $0.50/unit
--- added 25/01/2009 ---
Pesto $1.53/100g $2.16/100g
Toilet tissue $0.50/roll (6 pack) $0.41/roll (9 pack)
Green seedless grapes $2.00/kg $3.86/kg
Garlic $3.38/kg $10.98/kg
Frozen stir-fry veges $5.78/kg $6.24/kg

I always knew that Woolworths was more expensive than ALDI's, but this was a real eye-opener. ALDI's has fewer brands, but they're cheaper than even the most inexpensive brands at Woolworths. Green beans are probably the only exception. It'd be very hard for me to justify a trip to Woolworths when ALDI's is open. Sorry, Woolworths.

I'll add to this list as I compare more items.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Woolworths's New Unit Pricing Scheme is Great News for Consumers

In a development that seems to have largely gone unnoticed, Woolworths has introduced a new feature on their shelves that is a great boon to customers flummoxed by the various sizes of goods from competing manufacturers.

When faced with a choice between 110 grams of a product from vendor A selling at $5.60 and 130 grams of a competing product from vendor B selling at $6.10, which one represents better value for money? Not all of us have calculators in our heads, nor do we want to waste time punching in numbers even if we had calculators in our hands, so here's where Woolworths pitches in helpfully.

Along with the price of the item and the weight (or volume, or number of units as the case may be), Woolworths also provides the price per 100 grams that it represents (or the price per 100 ml, or the price per unit, as the case may be).

Now the customer can tell at a glance whether the product from vendor A or vendor B represents better value for money, other things being equal, of course. (In the above example, the two products cost $5.09 and $4.69 per 100 grams, so vendor B's product represents better value for money.) Unit pricing cuts through the clutter and lets you compare apples to apples, sometimes literally.

I've filled in a feedback form and handed it in at the service counter at my local Woolworths outlet. I've said:

I very much like the new unit pricing scheme introduced by Woolworths. It enables me to make smarter buying decisions. Please don't discontinue this scheme even if you come under pressure from your suppliers. This is a pro-consumer step.

I think everyone interested in strengthening the hands of consumers should submit similar feedback to Woolworths management. If other retailers like Coles also do the same, then the petty marketing tricks of manufacturers to shake a few more cents from customers can be thwarted.