Canstar Blue’s 2019 supermarket review has compared ALDI, IGA, Coles, Woolworths and Foodland, on product freshness, customer service, store layout, variety of products, deals & specials, quality of private label products, value for money and overall shopping satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Australia’s biggest supermarkets have moved away from simply fighting it out over the lowest prices, with an increasing focus being placed on ‘value’ and the overall customer experience – not to mention miniature toys for every $30 you spend on groceries! Coles and Woolworths have made their respective “Down Down” and “Cheap Cheap” slogans far less prominent in recent years, while ALDI continues to differentiate itself on price, but at the same time promotes its products as being ‘good different’.
‘Good’ is certainly the supermarket buzzword of the day, but which chain really has the happiest shoppers at a time when quality is just as important as cost in the eyes of many? Competitive prices remain a big factor in determining where Australians shop, but consumers can also see the benefit of paying a little extra for quality when it comes to their favourite products in particular. Of course, the added bonus of mini collectables also helps get us spending a little more!
In Canstar Blue’s latest supermarkets review, almost 3,000 shoppers were asked about their experiences of buying groceries from their local store of choice, with their collective feedback forming our 2019 customer satisfaction ratings. Survey respondents were asked to score the supermarket they most recently visited on a range of factors relating to customer service & staff accessibility, store layout & presentation, the quality of their private label products, variety of products, freshness of fruits, vegetables & meats, value for money, special deals and overall satisfaction.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 supermarket review saw the five biggest chains compared and rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
It’s the seventh time in nine years that ALDI has emerged victorious in our annual review. The only chain to stop ALDI has been Foodland in 2013 and 2017.
While ALDI was ahead of the pack with five stars for overall customer satisfaction again this year, every supermarket chain scored at least one five-star rating. Coles, Woolies and Foodland all got top marks for their variety of products, but ALDI was the only chain to get five stars for the quality of its private labels.
Foodland was rated best for store layout & presentation, while IGA earned the only five-star review for customer service. Foodland and ALDI were rated best for food freshness, but when it comes to value for money, ALDI was the clear winner.
In addition to finding out which supermarket chains are rated highest, our research also identified what drives customer satisfaction at the checkout.
With plenty of options available when it comes to getting your grocery shopping done, sticking to the same supermarket chain may not be the best strategy for your household budget. 28% of respondents to our latest survey said that they do all of their shopping with same supermarket chain, and responded with the following reasons when asked why:
While 28% of Aussies stick to the same supermarket, one in five (22%) think they could save money by shopping elsewhere, and 10% have started to use a different supermarket in the last year. When asked why shoppers have switched, they responded with:
With the supermarkets introducing their own products into almost every aisle, the grocery shop often becomes a choice between supermarket-owned and branded products. 46% of respondents to our 2019 survey think supermarket private label products are good quality, a massive drop from 76% last year. In addition, 27% said they tend to buy supermarket private labels rather than big brands, down from 47% in 2018.
With plenty of competition equalling out the playing field, only 17% of respondents said the costs of basics such as milk and bread determined where they shop, compared to 33% last year, implying that the usual suspects on the grocery list have less say than they used to. Survey respondents also seem to have more willpower, with only 37% making impulse purchases, compared to 58% last year.
Grocery shopping can be a struggle at times, particularly if you have kids in tow, or you’re rushing to grab something quick for dinner. We asked survey respondents for their biggest pet peeves when the weekly grocery shop comes around, with queues at the checkout the biggest issue for shoppers.
Despite the lengthy list of gripes, 15% said they have no supermarket frustrations.
With supermarket chains phasing out and eventually banning single-use plastic bags at the checkout last year, shoppers were divided, with some praising supermarkets for being more environmentally-friendly, while others weren’t happy about having to pay extra for a multi-use bag. In our latest survey, 72% of all respondents agreed with the plastic bag change.
23% of respondents said that bringing their own bags to the supermarket every time is a hassle, while 36% stated that they had always brought their own reusable bags to the shops, even before the plastic bag ban. 57% would also like to see supermarkets to do more to reduce plastic in other areas, such as food packaging, meaning there are still areas supermarkets can improve their environmental footprint.
German grocery giant and supermarket disrupter ALDI has again claimed top spot in these supermarket ratings. While ALDI doesn’t have the same number of stores as Coles and Woolworths, it’s fighting back against the duopoly with often lower prices, with its own brands offering real competition against the major brands stocked by other supermarkets. ALDI also offers something different with its ‘Special Buys’, one-off or seasonal products ranging from specialty foods to snow gear to luxury skin cream!
The Independent Grocers of Australia works by utilising group purchasing and marketing, while store management and ownership stays independent. More and more solo shops are joining the IGA name, which currently has more than 1,400 locations across Australia, from small corner shops to sprawling supermarkets. Many IGA shops also carry more local brands, speciality products, or imports for some different variety from your usual supermarket stock.
One of Australia’s two biggest supermarket chains, Coles now stands as a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange, having previously been owned by the Wesfarmers Group, which now holds a 15% share in the business. Coles has more than 800 stores across Australia, meaning you’ll likely come across one on your travels. In addition to physical stores, Coles also offers online grocery shopping with the choice of ‘Click & Collect’ or home delivery, ideal for when you’re run off your feet.
Often referred to as ‘Woolies’, Woolworths has around 1,000 locations around Australia, with its parent company – Woolworths Limited – also including Dan Murphy’s and Big W, in addition to a number of other smaller businesses. Similar to main rival Coles, Woolworths has ventured into the online market, offering an online grocery experience for time-pressed shoppers, as well as offering the Click & Collect pickup or home delivery service.
The South Australian chain stays true to its local values, with all Foodland branded products made in Australia, with over half of them made in SA itself. That means zero imported goods in the Foodland private label range. Outside of its stores, the company works to be an active part of South Australian communities by supporting local charities, schools and sporting clubs. Each Foodland supermarket is independently owned and locally-focussed – so you can get all the advantages of a large chain with the community focus of your old-fashioned local business. With over 100 stores in South Australia, there are a scattering of stores in both the Northern Territory and New South Wales.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Photo credit: anystock/shutterstock.com, Kaspars Grinvalds/shutterstock.com, garetsworkshop/shutterstock.com, Victor Wong/Shutterstock.com, Catrin Haze/Shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have made a purchase from a retail supermarket in the last month – in this case, 2,897 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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