It’s been a busy 18 months here at Which? towers. We’ve been working with the supermarkets to make it easier for us all to compare prices and we’re delighted to have serious commitments from four supermarkets.
Since I started work on the Price it Right campaign I have become increasingly aware of how important unit pricing is to so many people.
Our research showed that 63% of people who use unit pricing find inconsistent measurements make comparing products difficult. One person told us:
‘There definitely needs to be standardisation across all shops etc so that we can see exactly how much we have to pay for the goods.’
With 70% of us worried about food prices, it was clear that this campaign was crucial to helping all of us make savings.
Unit pricing missing on multibuys
Now unit pricing is one of those things that makes our lives easier. Like a malfunctioning television aerial – you can put up with it but it makes your life a lot better when it gets fixed. Making your lives better is bread and butter for us at Which?.
We presented our research findings and your concerns and comments to retailers and the government. Consumer affairs minister, Jo Swinson, took this on as an issue and we were able to see through the changes quickly. Our qualms with unit pricing were based on five key things:
1. The unit price is not always displayed.
2. The unit price is often small and hard to see.
3. Different units are used for varieties of the same product.
4. Fresh produce can display the price per item or per Kg making it impossible to compare.
5. The unit price does not have to be shown for promotions.
Confusing food labels
The main cause of these problems seemed to be complex legislation, non-user friendly label designs and mistakes during the labelling process. Cue our Price it Right campaign.
In September last year, the first retailer, Morrisons, began to roll out new shelf-edge labels, making sure that the unit price was on all its products. Since then, Waitrose, Aldi, the Coop and Sainsbury’s have begun to make similar changes to their pricing practices including designing clearer labels.
Lidl and Tesco have promised to make changes to the ways they display their pricing, but have yet to commit to colours suitable to the visually impaired or ensuring unit pricing is used on multibuys. And as Which? Convo commenter Fill tells us – unit pricing multi-buys can help us to get the best deal.
‘The other great thing about unit pricing is it sometimes shows the irony of a special offer or multibuy still not being cheaper than some other pack size.’
We’re waiting for Asda, M&S and Iceland to let us know what they plan to do. We are hoping they will catch up soon as we’ve called on you to give them a gentle nudge with our series of tweets.
The improvements that are already – and will soon be – visible in stores are those that the supermarkets have been able to make voluntarily. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the supermarkets and the government and send a big thank you to all our supporters who have helped make this happen.