Sep 17, 2008

What Do They Take Us For?

Photo: westernhorse

I've never figured this out in all of the 6 years I've been in New Zealand. This is the latest in the craziness of pricing in supermarkets.

In the UK, if you bought more of something it would cost less per item. New Zealand has a different take on this. In a hell of a lot of cases, if you buy more of something, it actually costs proportionately more! I've seen this happen on cereal quite a lot such that the larger box is pro-rata more expensive than the smaller one.

I saw another example of this earlier today. A sachet of cat food is 59c. A box of 6 sachets is $4.03! Not just a little over $3 which you might expect but 49c more than six individual sachets! But wait, it gets worse. A box of 12 sachets is not a little under twice the price of the box of six but actually $8.10! Which is not only worse than buying two boxes of six but even worse still than buying a load of singles.

This makes no sense to me. Can anyone please explain to me the logic here? The only thing I can come up with in the case of the cat food is that the extra box around the sachets mean more manufacturing cost. However, this wouldn't be the case with cereal.

Of course, the other alternative is that people in general don't check which size is cheaper. If that is the case then that's very bad since it's forcing all of us to pay over the odds for larger items.


Don said...

think you'll find more = better value

Tasha said...

I've been trying to figure that myself. Whenever I buy nappies I calculate the cost of each nappy and I don't see any difference most of the time! I used to buy them in bulk but in the last couple of weeks I've been buying the small packs because they are cheaper.

Rockman said...

The reality is retailers can charge whatever they like for bulk packaging of items, even if it costs more than the items individually or in other sized bulk packaging.

Alot of people don't have the time and patience to compare prices and will just go with whatever is convenient.

One way they can make extra dosh is by taking advantage of these people and its legal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that retailers will do alot of subtle things to take advantage of the customer.

Just google 'supermarket psychology' and you will find plenty of insights into how they manage this.

retire-at-40 said...

Rockman, you're right, I'm sure it's perfectly legal and unfortunately people are taken in by it.

Of course the other thing to look out for is the fact that the premium goods are at eye level and the cheaper alternatives are right down at your feet.

Thanks for the tip about searching for 'supermarket psychology', I'd never thought of looking that up :-)

Determinist said...

Noticed this a while ago and was confused enough when I saw that 6 sachets was exactly 6 times more (i.e. not less).

I don't get it either.

Perrin said...

Yeah it seems every time I buy laundry powder either the 1kg or 1.5kg box is cheaper that particular occasion. I have to do the mental arithmetic to figure out which.

I'd like to think they don't do it on purpose and that it is just caused by fluctuations in their cost price and how long things take to move off the shelves, etc. but that may be naive.

The one that really gets me is when the refills for the spray type cleaners (ie bottles without the spray nozzle) are dearer than the bottles with it.

chilliboy said...

I know it doesn't need rocket but people in a rush don't take notice of the little price signs. Example is £10 per kilo or £1 per 100g. Supermarkets always do this on products of a similar description but next to each other on the shelf. I don't think people realise it but at £1.25 per 100g they are suckered into thinking it is cheaper than £10 per kilo.

Most things in the UK do work out cheaper in a supermarket if you buy in bulk but be aware of any special offers eg. 9 rolls of toilet paper will work out cheaper per roll than a pack of 4 however if the 4 packs are on special ie buy one get one half price, then exercise the grey matter a little because the supermarkets won't do it for you!!

retire-at-40 said...


You're dead right on what you finish on "... the supermarkets won't do it for you." In fact, the supermarkets know exactly what they're doing and it's all based on getting you to spend more.

I have an article planned in the near future but if you want a sneak peak, so what rockman suggested earlier in this thread ... Google for "supermarket psychology" and you'll find some interesting reading.