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.

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