Saturday, 24 August 2013

Supermarket offers (Προφορές στα σουπερμάρκετ)

We stopped off at the supermarket yesterday to buy some of our favorite brand feta cheese (Plataion), but the store we chose was out of it. How annoying, as it was the only item we needed. While there, we picked up the store's brochure, which listed their latest offers. This time, it was full of 'buy one, get one free' offers. The kids were with us, and they noticed the first item listed: buy one pizza at 3.74 euro each, get one free. It sounded quite convenient, so I bought the special.

Sometimes we need a meal in a hurry and this one could be cooked in a matter of minutes. Each pizza was just enough for two hungry people so I felt it was well priced. If it weren't for the kids being with us and pointing out the offer, to be honest, I would not have bought them. A quick dinner can easily be prepared in our house, consisting of other 'healthier' ingredients, containing notably more salad ingredients.

I skimmed through the brochure and found all sorts of other items in it that could easily lead us into temptation by making our lives easier: for every packet of frankfurters (2.62 euro/285g), sachet of mini-crackers (0.52 euro/70g), bottle of ready squeezed juice (1.77 euro/285g), cup single-serve prepared milk coffee (1.39 euro/230ml), box of special K cornflakes (3.88 euro/375), tub of expensive ice-cream (6.862 euro/430g), bag of pre-cut frozen fries (2.21 euro/600g), prepared meat patties (5.14 euro/500g), or bottle of iced tea (1.50 euro/500ml), you'd get one more of the same for free. Everything was made to sound cheap, and it was all invariably tasty in that fast food sense, and full of fat and salt/sugar. There were what seemed like ten pages of 1+1 offers.

On closer inspection, it was obvious that the supermarket chain had produced the brochure in such a way that it would fool all except the most savvy readers into believing that they were buying bargains. Here are the different ways that they try to trick you:

1. They use a large eye-catching title on their brochure that leads you to believe that the offers in it will be of this type (but the offers in the brochure are of mixed types). The title of the brochure is 1+1 δώρο (buy one, get one free) - the finer print next to it tells us that there are also other offers.

2. Some of the 1+1 offers listed are actually double-packs - you can't buy them singly (but they are labelled in different colour coding - but still, they aren't real 1+1 offers). The products on the cover page of the brochure all show one item, except for the shower gel offer, which shows a double pack - you can't buy each item separately, whereas the other items are all available separately (but you need to remember to pick two up when you buy them). 

3. Use of the same advertising style is made for non-1+1 offers, so you are being fooled by the trompe l'oeil effect (eg a 30% discount offer looks just like a 1+1 offer). This is the most misleading way to sell specials. The similar designs of each different offer are placed on the same page, creating an optical illusion. You wouldn't spot the difference immediately. Look at the way the second page of the brochure is headed: 1+1. Right below the 1+1, the item is being advertised as 40% off the regular price. It's not a 1+1 offer - but the same design is used on the whole page. Half the products are 1+1 while the other half have just 20-40% off the price. Even if you picked up two of them, you'd still be paying a bit extra for the second item.

4. In this brochure, not even the pages that seemed to use only one method of advertising were fair in the sense that they were showing a price per kg of each product, but they were not saying why these prices were special (ie they did not show the regular price - if there was one - or how much they were discounted by). In my opinion, something isn't a special if it doesn't show the regular price it is sold for.

If I get to the brochures first (trhey are delivered to our homes on a regular basis), I always throw them into the recycle bag as soon as I get them. My family likes to look at them because of their eye-catching appeal (they don't focus just on food). There is no such thing as a special offer on food. You are most likely being tricked, or the food is not good quality, or a large quantity will simply last you a lifetime, and you will end up throwing out most of it when you do a check of expiry dates in your pantry.

Here's the funny part: after we paid and left the store, I thought we had paid too much. I checked the brochure once more, and realised that the 'specials' were for the following week. Oh well, the kids did say the pizza was good. If there is any left in the store when the specials start, I may pick up another set.

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