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The Democracy of Supermarkets

Author: Brian Todd

The Independent View

Brian Todd

The Democracy of Supermarkets  

 January 24, 2013 


Each month the government releases its Consumer Price Index for food-at-home – retail food prices, and it is reported in The Food Institute Report we have published each week since 1928. While this report certainly has merit—and receives much ballyhooed attention in the press—I for one always caution consumers that it has to be taken with a grain of salt for one simple reason: It's not always indicative of your shoppers' own experiences.

Take this most recent report, for example. In December retail food prices were said to be 1.3 percent higher than a year earlier, but a deeper dive into the figures shows the effect that food prices are having on shoppers' wallets really depends on the items they have in their shopping carts. For example, if they prefer chicken at the center of their plates, they found poultry prices were up almost 6 percent last year. On the other hand, if they switched to pork chops, they would have found pork prices were down 3.3 percent.

The bottom line is that no matter what the government data may say about food prices, your customers have choices to make and when they adjust their shopping lists according to price, they can significantly impact their own consumer price index for the better! Unlike many items they buy, such as fuel for their homes or their cars, they can render those government price reports almost meaningless by taking advantage of the plethora of alternatives you provide them in meat cases, produce aisles and on grocery shelves in your stores.

So what can you do to help? The same things you've always done, but with a modern twist. Start by providing your shoppers with the best possible prices, then promote those prices in every way you can. Just remember that promotion today is no longer simply distribution of printed circulars. To ensure that budget-conscious shoppers are taking advantage of your budget buys, you need to be posting those deals to your website, emailing your shoppers to let them know, and then following up on social media. Doing so will ensure that both you and your shoppers are getting the most out of every deal you offer.

Turns out the supermarket is one of the most democratic establishments in our nation—and it's up to us to make sure our shoppers recognize it!


Brian Todd