French supermarket stands up for shoppers

In a break with tradition, a large supermarket group starts a fight for their customers

There was a time when supermarket brands used to fight hard for their customers.

A time when they actually gave a damn about the people that matter most in the success of their businesses.

Now sadly most of them just worry about rising input costs and what they are returning to their beloved shareholders.

In the war against 'shrinkflation' - the annoying trend where accountancy is the primary lens through which the discipline of marketing is practiced, where product sizes shrink, while the recommended retail price of the item stays the same - Carrefour are naming and shaming brands that are guilty.

The sign says: "This product has seen its volume fall and the effective price charged by the supplier rise." Image via: BBC News

Carrefour are warning shoppers against brands that are practicing the unforgivable act of shrinkflation by placing prominent shelf- talkers where the offending product is located.

"Obviously, the aim in stigmatising these products is to be able to tell manufacturers to rethink their pricing policy," said Stefen Bompais, director of client communications at Carrefour.

BTW - another even more worrying tactic that manufacturers use these days is what's now being called skimpflation.

Skimpflation is where accountants acting as marketers choose input ingredients that are of a lesser quality (and a lesser price) to come in on the price point of the original, without explicitly disclosing this change to the customer.

Effectively it's fraud.

Is naming and shaming suppliers a good strategic move?

This is a bold strategy for Carrefour to take.

By going to war with their suppliers they obviously risk the relationship with key brands. But at the same time, by standing up for their customers they win the respect and trust of the marketplace.

This also puts a rather awkward spotlight on other supermarkets who are not fighting as hard for their customers.

As one of France's biggest supermarkets - this might well be a strategic gamble that pays off. In these tough times customers are on the hunt for allies; Carrefour are making that hunt easier.

Ultimately a supermarket's cash flow is generated by the loyalty they enjoy with customers. If strengthening this bond comes as a result of calling out low-level fraud by manufacturers, then so be it.

Too many supermarket brands have lost their bite because they have boards littered with accountants and lawyers and people that have zero competency when it comes to crafting a compelling consumer-focused brand. In this marketplace their longevity limited.

Hopefully more supermarkets will start to remember who is really responsible for their profits. Fight for your customer or your customer will find somebody else who will.


France’s Carrefour puts up ‘shrinkflation’ warning signs
Carrefour is telling its customers which products are smaller than they used to be.
The curse of shrinkflation: how food is being sneakily downsized – but prices aren’t
Shrinking jars of jam, smaller chocolate bars and cut-size snacks … why won’t brands stop decreasing the size of their products?
‘Skimpflation’: An even sneakier form of shrinkflation
Amid inflation, businesses are cutting services and quality. It’s called skimpflation, and you may not even notice it’s happening.
Grocery ‘shrinkflation’ is worse now ‘than in any other period in memory,’ says expert—3 ways to avoid it
Most grocery shoppers don’t notice shrinkflation, which is why manufacturers use it so often to subtly increase the cost of food.