Penny-pinching supermarket shoppers switching in droves

Queenslanders are more likely to buy supermarket home brands than interstate shoppers.
Queenslanders are more likely to buy supermarket home brands than interstate shoppers. Photo: Nick Moir

Half of Australia thinks it can get cheaper groceries by switching supermarkets, and about one in four of us have already switched.

Figures from consumer research firm Canstar Blue give the shopper's perspective of the war being waged for our grocery dollars. They show we are floozies for the right price, but too lazy to travel very far looking for it.

Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes said the customer churn was largely – but not exclusively – because of cut-price grocery store ALDI and it's disruption of the longstanding dominance of Coles and Woolworths.

"The ALDI effect on supermarket shopping has been huge," he said. "If all your friends are talking about something, eventually you'll want to try it for yourself.

"ALDI has helped trigger the big supermarket merry-go-round, but it's not all about that particular chain. ALDI has made consumers more price-conscious and determined to save money at the checkout, even if they don't actually shop there. Customers of all supermarket chains are hopping around between stores, trying to work out what does and doesn't work for them."

The survey of 3000 shoppers conducted by market research firm Colmar Brunton found NSW and Victoria led the country on a range of measures, including:

  • 26 per cent (NSW) and 24 per cent (Vic) said they were already shopping at a new chain. Nationally, the figure was 23 per cent;
  • 55 per cent (NSW) and 54 per cent (Vic) said they could probably save money by shopping at another chain, compared to 50 per cent nationwide.

And, in a note to the Coles' and Woolworths' marketing departments, who have thrown huge dollars at the likes of Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver to sell their brands, 0 per cent of people who changed nationwide did so because of celebrity chef endorsements. Just 2 per cent changed because of TV advertising.

About 72 per cent of Australians said they always shopped at the same store, but loyalty was usually a matter of convenience. About one-in-three said they had stayed with their supermarket because the place they shopped was close to their home.

Australians are not very loyal to their supermarkets.

Australians are not very loyal to their supermarkets.

Mr Downes said these people were "happy to pay the lazy tax" in exchange for convenience.

"For some people, it doesn't matter how many big promotions and reward incentives you throw at them, all they want is a supermarket that's close to home and has ample parking space," he said. 

"These are the people who switch to auto-pilot when they walk through the supermarket entrance and blindly throw their favourite products into their shopping trolley without giving much thought to the cost. Then a few days later they wonder where their money's gone.

"But as ALDI continues to expand across the country, I'd expect even more consumers to become more price-conscious and consider their options. That doesn't necessarily mean they will switch, but at least become a bit more savvy about their shopping."​

- The Age