New research into unit pricing in Australia, in the grocery sector, throws up some intriguing findings. And they underscore the challenges that TCP Code unit pricing for telco products faces: Will it make a difference? Can it make a difference? Is there a right way and a wrong way to implement it? How would we know?
Let’s get the obvious objection out of the way early: phone plans aren’t groceries. Fair enough. But we have no closer a unit pricing example to learn from, and precious little expert analysis went into the telco model’s design. The least we can do is keep an eye on the findings in relation to groceries.
The grocery unit pricing research
Under the title ‘Unit pricing is smart shopping practice, but do consumers care?’ South Australian Researcher in Consumer Behaviour Svetlana Bogomolova and Jordan Louviere, Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Choice at Sydney’s University of Technology, released the results of their study into three key questions:
- Do grocery consumers have a good opinion of unit pricing?
- Do they consider unit pricing information provides valuable input into their buying decisions?
- Does the evidence support their assessment of their own use of unit pricing data?
The study suggests that:
- Consumers generally think that grocery unit pricing is good information, worthy of being used wisely.
- They generally think they do take it into account, and do use it wisely.
- But in fact, they don’t take much notice or account of it at all.
In other words, grocery unit pricing as currently implemented isn’t in fact effective, despite consumers approving of it and expressing positive opinions as to its value in their decision-making process.
The researchers’ considered speculation
Bogomolova and Louviere comment:
So, what stops consumers from getting more use of the unit pricing information? The non-prominent location of the unit pricing on price signage, coupled with a very small font could be some of the “show stoppers”. Indeed, the information presented with such a lack of prominence might look like a disclaimer to a novice or a busy consumer. So, addressing its prominence on the price signage could be the first starting point in encouraging the use of unit pricing as the useful tool for grocery shopping. (Our emphasis)
And those are the very points TCPCode.com.au had in mind when we noted the variations in presentation of unit pricing data in a previous post.
Our take on it
A mobile plan is much more complicated than a breakfast cereal. For unit pricing of telco plans to deliver real benefits, the telco industry and its stakeholders must be far more considered and insightful than the grocery industry and its stakeholders needed to be.
Faced with a simpler problem, there’s now some evidence that the grocery regulators missed their mark. Telco unit pricing is still new, and stakeholders still have room to assess and address how to implement it such that researchers won’t be saying in a few years that it was a nice idea that looked good to consumers but delivered no real benefits.
TCPCode.com.au thinks that Bogomolova and Louviere’s musings about prominence in grocery unit pricing, and whether ‘lack of prominence might look like a disclaimer’ and that ‘addressing its prominence on the price signage could be the first starting point in encouraging the use of unit pricing as the useful tool’ are also right on the money when it comes to telco unit pricing.