Our supermarkets’ online PR is under serious scrutiny after the consumer group ‘Which?’ has found that they are shrinking their product’s sizes without actually cutting their prices.
That’s right! Despite ‘Which?’ making a formal complaint to the Competition and Marketing Authority and an on-going investigation by the Government’s competition watchdog, our so-called ‘Big Chains’, the one’s we’re meant to trust, are misleading us with their multi-buy deals.
Tesco’s, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s are all guilty of this PR company ploy economists have dubbed as ‘shrinkflation’. For example, Asda have been accused of increasing the price of one-litre bottles of Robinsons Orange Fruit Squash from £1 to £1.59 and then offering two for £2.50, which is no saving at all. In fact, this ‘deal’ is costing shoppers 50p!
They are also selling products at a high price for a short period of time and then run the ‘offer’ for a number of weeks – a tactic which is not restricted to supermarkets. Superdrug sold a 200ml bottle of Garnier Amre Solaire Clear Protect Spray at £14.99 for 63 days and then used this price as a benchmark for a promotion that reduced the price to £7.49 for 167 days.
Current guidelines, under the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations Act, 2008, suggest a product must beat the original higher price for a reasonable period of time before being reduced. Generally, this is considered to be 28 days although supermarkets argue that this time frame should be much shorter for food that is fresh, in particular.
Of course, the supermarket’s PR companies have reacted to this poor publicity and Asda, in particular, have blamed it on an internal error and said that they would never knowingly mislead customers. Yeah right, if that were so, then it wouldn’t be an on-going issue among supermarkets. Tesco’s were fined £300,000 for their false deals back in 2013 with a half price strawberry promotion. The supermarket sold a punnet of strawberries at a ‘half-price’ figure of £1.99, after charging £3.99 for a very short period.
Understandably we are all a sucker for deals and enjoy the thought of saving money, but we’re not! Also, the PR companies acting on behalf of these supermarkets are making the situation worse where they are refusing to own up. If this continues, more and more consumers will lose faith in their local store, which would only affect the stores profit levels in the long term. As it is, Tesco’s announced catastrophic losses of £6.4 billion towards the end of last month and other supermarkets will follow suit if they are not careful.
Are you in need of PR for individuals or PR for businesses without the online PR backlash? Get in touch with a member of our Public Relations Agency, Essex to find out how we deal with crisis management.