Supermarkets are past masters at promotion and marketing. They use perfectly legitimate tactics. Some items are intentionally placed close to tills where they may become an impulse buy while customers wait to pay. Standard special offers obviously catch shoppers’ attention and quite rightly they believe that there are savings to be made which will not be around next time they are in the store. The most popular basic products are positioned within the store quite a distance from where shoppers enter. They want their customers to walk around before getting to them.
Everything is not always as it seems and recent bad publicity suggests that consumers may need to be more discerning rather than accept everything they see. The idea that a bulk offer will mean a saving is not always the case.
Similarly, consumers may discover that descriptions on packaging may be misleading. The use of the word ‘light’ is particularly worrying; compared to what? Own brand goods do not need to define the word exactly as consumers would expect; sometimes there is far more sugar in an item that shoppers may expect because they are ‘light’ in something else, perhaps salt. The reverse can happen; ‘light in sugar’ but full of salt.
Which? magazine recently surveyed a number of shoppers in an attempt to find out their opinions on misleading packaging and own brand products seem to be of some concern. They attempt to use colour, photographs and font on packaging that consumers associate with popular brands.
The food industry has created a minefield it seems and to date there are few signs that things will improve. If the ingredient in processed food is as vague as ‘meat’ then it could obviously be anything. Shoppers in a hurry or those that are unquestioning may be disappointed if they knew the true ingredients within burgers, sausages, canned meat and the like.
Stop and Think
Supermarkets will remain a major force but consumers who are concerned about the quality of food that they and their families are eating should give some thought to their buying behaviour. Just because it is convenient to buy a week’s shopping in one place, does that mean they should ignore the aspect of quality?
In the case of meat there have been a series of stories over recent years that give rise to concern. Misleading or incomplete packaging have resulted in the ‘horsemeat scandal’ or stories of a proportion of meat not being in line with the description on the pack. If it says lamb or beef it should not include anything else. One answer is to get products direct from suppliers that fully disclose the origin of their meat. If convenience is an issue what is more convenient than ordering halal meat and having it delivered fresh to the door?
The answer is that nothing is more convenient. The days of using specialist suppliers who are happy to make life easier for consumers and grow their businesses accordingly can return once again.