Sunday 8 December 2019

SuperValu’s push on own brand products makes perfect sense

Deputy Group Editor Darragh Clifford was invited by SuperValu to take a price challenge with their own brand products. So with shopping list in hand, he headed for the aisles of Pettitt's SuperValu in St Aidan's Crescent

There was a time when the notion of a 'weekly shop' was completely alien to me. Before marriage and kids came along, I could come and go to the shops as I pleased, living from day to day without any real forward planning or budgeting.

Fast forward 10 years and our weekly shop is planned with military precision. Cook books are consulted, larders are checked and double checked, shopping bags are packed, a detailed list is drawn up, kids are piled into the car and we embark on a mission to get our groceries purchased in a timely fashion in a store that will give us bang for our buck.

So when an email landed in work last week offering me the chance to put SuperValu's own brand products to the price test, my interest was immediately piqued.

As a regular shopper in Pettitt's SuperValu in my home town of Enniscorthy, as well as their store on the Quay in Wexford town which is close to my office, I was well aware of the SuperValu own brand range and the company's recent marketing campaign alerting customers to potential savings.

But how much of a saving? Well, I was about to find out.

The plan was simple. I was to present myself at Pettitt's SuperValu in St Aidan's Crescent in Wexford at an allocated time where I was to carry out a typical family shop to the tune of €120. I had to stick to branded products and would be shadowed by a member of the Pettitt's team who would be placing a SuperValu own brand equivalent in her trolley for every branded item I threw in mine.

So with a rough list drawn out I hit the aisles of Pettitt's - brilliantly assisted by staff member Robin Messitt - in search of good old fashioned branded goods.

I went for the old reliables that are on our list every week: Fairy washing up liquid, Pampers nappies, Avonmore milk, Kerrygold butter, Wheetabix, Bachelors beans, Flora sunflower oil, Flahavan's porridge oats, etc. These are tried and tested products that have been on our supermarket shelves for generations.

Before long, we were hovering around our target of €120 and with a grand total of 44 items in each of our trolleys, the moment of truth had arrived.

Robin scanned my branded trolley first, and the bill came to €124.03. But what would the SuperValu equivalent come to? We knew there would be savings, but honestly I was thinking of a saving of around €30 would constitute a good morning's work.

So when Robin scanned the second trolley and the bill came to €59.26, we were both truly astounded. That the shop came in at less than half the price really makes you wonder why do we buy branded products at all.

I took the SuperValu own brand shopping home and put everything to the taste and quality test over the next few days. And low and behold, there really is no difference between them and if there was it was minimal.

The power of advertising has done a wonderful job at convincing us that to consume certain products we need to buy certain brands. Over time, the market leaders got bigger, to the point that they are synonymous with certain products. Think Hellmann's for mayonnaise.

But an experience like this puts a wrecking ball through the notion that branded is best. It clearly isn't - and the bottom line of a saving of over 50% really can't be argued with.

So the next time you are in Pettitt's, go for their own branded range. It makes perfect sense.

Wexford People