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23 February 2024

Supermarket loyalty pricing: Why are member and non-member prices so different?

This week, supporters have shared their concerns that the non-member price for potatoes, pet food, and pasta sauce at their local supermarket have been hiked to make the loyalty price seem like a great deal – when they’re confident it's the usual selling price.

If you’ve seen a big difference between loyalty and non-loyalty prices, or a non-member price that’s more expensive than the price you usually pay for that item - send a photo example our way as we’re keen to dig into this further.

Here are a couple of examples that have caused some shoppers to stop and snap during their weekly shopping.

Examples from concerned shoppers

Surprised by pricey potatoes

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Member v non-member price difference: 44%

"I've never seen Perla potatoes priced at $10.99”

This is what Christine, a Consumer supporter, told us when she shared this photo of the potatoes she normally buys.

“...$7 is the more usual price I’ve seen these advertised” she said.

Confused by a price increase on instant coffee

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Member v non-member price difference: 18%

Brandon* told us he places a bulk-order once a month.

“Among others, I buy mackerel and 90g instant coffee, so I know their prices well,” he said.

“Until a few months ago, the Special Blend Granulated Instant Coffee was $2. I now see they increased the price to $2.50 (member) and $3 (non-member). Advertised as ‘special’ when it’s in fact an increase in price.”

Brandon was keen to be clear he has no issue with the increase in price. Rather, he is worried that the member price isn’t a special at all.

Leggo’s pasta sauce price problem?

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Member v non-member price difference: 46%

In this example of tomato sauce, members will pay $3.30 whereas non-members will pay $5.30.

An anonymous supporter flicked us a link to a Reddit thread, where a user expressed their frustration with having to pay nearly double the amount than a member.

“This must be regulated.”

Send us your examples

Consumer NZ is concerned that New Zealanders are being pressured to sign up to a loyalty card just to get access to lower food prices.

“Loyalty schemes are big business for supermarkets, and it’s in their best interests to get their customers to sign up to them. We want to ensure that the specials on our supermarket shelves are meaningful and fair,” says Gemma Rasmussen, head of advocacy and research at Consumer.

If you’ve seen an expensive non-member price at your supermarket, or a member-only special that seems like the ‘normal’ price, please send it to [email protected].

*Not his real name

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End dodgy 'specials' at the supermarkets

Whether it's an 'everyday low price' or 'super saver', we asked you to send us examples of unclear or misleading pricing and promotional practices, so we can hold the supermarkets to account.

Find out more

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