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When it comes to grocery shopping, how much choice is too much?

The Australian supermarket category is one that always generates a strong response. So when we asked you recently to tell us what you thought about Coles and Woolworths reducing the number of brands because their customers thought too much choice made their shopping decisions stressful, we knew you would have a lot to say!

There is no doubt that there is an element of truth to the idea that too much choice can be overwhelming. A number of you welcome the prospect of a quicker and easier shopping trip. As one shopper says; “I find many choices unnecessary and believe that many choices lead to higher prices as well as taking longer.”

However, it's not all so straightforward. The flip side of less choice is that favourite brands have become harder to find as they disappear from the shelves of the major supermarkets. People have already noticed that trusted Australian brands have been replaced by overseas-produced home brands.

“It annoys me the supermarkets giving us less choice. I noticed many years ago them cutting brands off their shelves. Golden Circle tin beans…Australian company replaced with foreign tins. They cut more brands and replace it with generics and cheap foreign rubbish.”

So while making choices simpler might be worthy, the supermarkets' idea of simplifying choice is not the same as yours.

"Life is easier if there are a few better and quality brands, rather than a few just ok brands which we keep ignoring."

This is already having an impact on shopping behaviour for many people. In order to keep buying favourite brands, many need to make multiple supermarket trips each week.

There are two big winners from this trend, and it’s not Coles and Woolworths. Fairly new competitor ALDI is viewed very favourably as it offers high quality home brands at cheap prices. However, as most people realise they can't do a complete shop at Aldi alone, independent supermarkets such as IGA and Foodland that still stock a wide (and different) range of brands are becoming more popular.

"The result of this is that I'm shopping at independent supermarkets quite often these days as and when I require things, rather than the traditional once-a-week shop."

The crux of it is that too much choice is only a problem when it means that shoppers can't find what they want. Supermarkets looking to reduce the number of brands on their shelves will need to be careful which brands they keep, to avoid forcing customers to start shopping elsewhere to find their favourite brands.

Last reply: 12th May 2018 / 14 replies / Post by Cafestudy Admin

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frannymanny

Posted by: frannymanny
Posted: 13th Jul 2017

frannymanny says: I disagree that you cannot do a complete shop at Aldi. What can you not get there? Reply

Migaloo

Posted by: Migaloo
Posted: 22nd Jul 2017

Migaloo says: I worked in a super market many , moons ago and they were a lot smaller those days less choice of brands , we still carried all products every one still found it okay to shop there , these days we are spoiled so many brands , really do we need a heap of brands that cover one thing which is really the same as the rest like peas in tins etc .Eldies covers what you need pretty well more like the old super markets from many moons ago actually . Reply

Lil

Posted by: Lil
Posted: 27th Jul 2017

Lil says: I refuse to buy generic brands and will change my shopping routine if I can't get the brands a want. That seems to be the problem with having too many generic and foreign brands for shoppers to choose from. Not only does it take a lot longer to actually do the shopping, but invariably it means a trip to another shop or supermarket to get the desired goods. Additionally, it means I now have to look at all the labels to find where the food is grown, harvested or packaged. Having so many choices is definitely time consuming, something that in this busy day and age, many would rather not contend with. I'm sure that this is a contributing factor to the number of people using internet shopping. How I hate having to negotiate narrow supermarket aisles dodging the staff who are pushing large binned trolleys as they fill customers orders. Reply

Lil

Posted by: Lil
Posted: 27th Jul 2017

Lil says: I refuse to buy generic brands and will change my shopping routine if I can't get the brands a want. That seems to be the problem with having too many generic and foreign brands for shoppers to choose from. Not only does it take a lot longer to actually do the shopping, but invariably it means a trip to another shop or supermarket to get the desired goods. Additionally, it means I now have to look at all the labels to find where the food is grown, harvested or packaged. Having so many choices is definitely time consuming, something that in this busy day and age, many would rather not contend with. I'm sure that this is a contributing factor to the number of people using internet shopping. How I hate having to negotiate narrow supermarket aisles dodging the staff who are pushing large binned trolleys as they fill customers orders. Reply

Nefertari

Posted by: Nefertari
Posted: 10th Aug 2017

Nefertari says: I don't think there is really anything such as 'too much choice'. The more brands we have to choose from the better. And having more than just a few well-known brands on the shelves means more competition for our money and therefore cheaper prices which would be ideal. Reply

Bookworm9992001

Posted by: Bookworm9992001
Posted: 14th Aug 2017

Bookworm9992001 says: Grocery shopping in Australia is boring enough without cutting down on brands. Keep a variety of brands and items to keep your customer interested. Reply

super88

Posted by: super88
Posted: 25th Oct 2017

super88 says: Less brands is OK.
I haven't found a lot of generic brands at Coles or Woolworths that have retained the quality of some brands that have been deleted.
If asked I would say "yeh price is very important" but I find I'm still prepared to pay more for quality items even if the generic brand is substantially cheaper.
No doubt the supermarkets would be pretty thorough in there research of generic verses brand names. So I am probably in the minority,
but if I'm stuck with increasing amounts of 'almost as good' generic products, I might as well shop more regularly at Aldi where I have found some products can be cheaper without sacrificing quality.
Reply

Fat Man

Posted by: Fat Man
Posted: 7th Dec 2017

Fat Man says: This has now made it harder to shop for what a person requires. Now I have to go to Woollies, Coles, Aldi, and IGA to shop for what my needs are, rather than just going to one supermarket. This has made my shopping hard and expensive with added traveling of over one hundred extra kilometre's. So, I ask you, 'Why am I such a grumpy old man?'. Reply

winnie64

Posted by: winnie64
Posted: 11th Dec 2017

winnie64 says: I’m seeing supermarket brands taking over the shelves giving us less variety and choice. I support Australian brands and have favourite products when I shop if they’re going to give me less choice I will shop somewhere else. Reply

mustang6000

Posted by: mustang6000
Posted: 20th Feb 2018

mustang6000 says: We now do a major shop at Aldi weekly and our top up shopping at the local independent supermarket. In these times of rapidly rising costs and shrinking incomes, we shop at Aldi because of the quality of their own brand products and find that there is very little they don't carry.
As for their being too much choice, once Woolworths & Coles reduced the number of name brand products they stock, prices of their own brands will of course increase. Reply

Bazz

Posted by: Bazz
Posted: 4th Apr 2018

Bazz says: Shopping is stressful from having too much choice??? Do these people have a medical condition? There's nowhere near sufficient choice in quality, treatment, brands names nor standard. Independent brand names keep quality, standards, good worker wages + conditions for their employees & fair prices. They pour profits back into innovating their products, upgrading equipment, embracing new technology & adding to their range. Boycott home brands... they're just the opposite. Check out what the Unions have discovered & you will never buy Home Brands ever again! We boycott all supermarkets, spending most of our income at the vegan organic greengrocers & markets around town. Reply

PGS

Posted by: PGS
Posted: 12th Apr 2018

PGS says: It seems Colesworths are more getting rid of names where possible and replacing them with store brands under varying names. A lot of the 'new' names on the shelves are owned by the chain. Reply

CSD

Posted by: CSD
Posted: 4th May 2018

CSD says: As an aged pensioner faced with low income and growing costs of house maintenance, heating and increasing needs of medications, not all of which are on PBIS Scheme, despite being recommended by the hospital. Not having any family but so grateful for support from my local council I despair of the two leading supermarkets. I can see where they are targetting, which are families. This view is because the greatest savings seems to be on "family packs". Much too much for one person and a fridge that is used by a single person. The unused food just can't fit into a freezer and can become very boring to eat continuously. With mobility restrictions, I am unable to access Aldi or IGA shops (and I live in inner Melbourne). Really there is very little choice for someone like me.

In reality, there is a Woolworths 400 metres from my house but, in struggling to walk there (and walking is important to keep fit), I have to cross a busy road to reach there before resting to get my shopping. The staff are very good and caring but they can't change the nature of the stock, which is becoming more and more limited, and focused on the Home Brand. Occasionally a friend or a neighbour will take me to Coles, when they have time. I notice that Coles has its own Home Brands but also many others which have disappeared from Woolworths.

I have visited Aldi two or three times and was confused by a different range of products which I didn't know. It took me a while to walk around and assess everything. My confusion was at the checkout but that was through my ignorance.

My friend also took me to a nearly close IGA store, which was wonderful. It stocked a lot of brands that were no longer available in the main supermarkets, which I knew worked and were good value. Being based in North West Melbourne, the IGA also had wonderful meats that were not "family packs", beautiful cheeses, Mediterranean, delicatesant selections.and joyful treats.

I am fortunate in that where I live there are many independent shops of different and enjoyable ethnicities. I am not so fortunate in that I cannot access them. So, I guess, where I live is choice and it;s different people's choice. I regret the loss of alternatives shut down buy supermarket home brands. Reply

super88

Posted by: super88
Posted: 12th May 2018

super88 says: My local IGA is pretty average, but I have found other IGA stores that are fantastic shops offering the best produce and a mix of food options that fit somewhere between a deli and a food court as well as the supermarket staples.
I expect to pay more at these upmarket IGA's but I'll keep returning because the mix is right for me.
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