Supermarket bread price wars won’t impact specialty bakers, Roy Morgan Research
Woolworths Supermarkets’ recent announcement that they were reducing the price of their Homebrand white bread from $1 to 85c a loaf not only attracted widespread media attention, but prompted Coles and ALDI to match the price with their equivalent ‘store’s own’ white loaves. However, the ‘bread wars’ are not likely to impact smaller specialist stores such as Bakers Delight, according to findings from market research organisation Roy Morgan Research.
Australian Food News reported in September 2014 that Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon had said Woolworths’ ‘Cheap, Cheap Bread’ campaign “might seem appealing to consumers, but in the long run it will cripple independent supermarkets who can’t access bread at that price from suppliers”. Senator Xenophon said he would move to reinstate a key part of competition law that prohibited a firm charging a different price to different persons or groups for the same product or service.
Market research shows market share stable
However, Roy Morgan Research said its findings showed market share remains fairly stable for both supermarkets and specialist stores.
“Some media and industry sources claim that Woolies’ decision to discount its Homebrand white bread so heavily could hurt independent and specialist retailers that don’t have the buying power to match such a low price,” said Warren Reid, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research. “But data from Roy Morgan Research shows that consumers who buy their bread from stores like Bakers Delight can afford, and are willing, to pay more, and almost certainly wouldn’t be swayed by an 85-cent white loaf,” he said.
Of the supermarkets, Woolworths already has the largest share of the bread market, accounting for 27 per cent of total dollars spent on bread in an average week, with a mean weekly spend per customer of $5.96. Coles Group is second with a 23 per cent share and mean weekly spend of $5.66, well ahead of IGA (7 per cent) and ALDI (6 per cent).
Overall, supermarkets account for almost two-thirds of Australia’s total weekly bread spend.
When combined, bread shops such as Baker’s Delight, Brumby’s Bakery and Delifrance have almost the same share (27 per cent) of the weekly dollars spent on bread as Woolworths — a slight increase on their market share from the same time last year (when it was 26 per cent).
Weekly spend amount differs between retailers
However, Roy Morgan Research found the mean weekly spend at these specialist retailers was markedly higher than at the supermarkets: ranging from $6.85 at Delifrance/other bread shops and $7.37 at Bakers Delight to $7.58 at Brumby’s.
Roy Morgan Research found that people belonging to high-income communities were more likely to purchase their bread from the specialist bread shops, while those from the less well-off communities were more likely to buy it from supermarkets.
“For example, by using Helix Personas to profile bread buyers, we find that people from the Progressive Thinkers persona (part of the Leading Lifestyles community) are 54 per cent more likely to buy their bread from Bakers Delight,” Mr Reid said. “With a very healthy household income, an optimistic outlook and a taste for life’s little luxuries, these individuals wouldn’t think twice about paying more for bread if they thought the taste and quality warranted it,” he said.
“On the other hand, Pennywise Australians are 39 per cent more likely to buy their bread from Woolworths,” Mr Reid said.
Mr Reid said that people in its Pennywise persona, part of the “Battlers community”, were “exactly the kind of shopper who’d find 85-cent bread an irresistible proposition”.
“Typically living in rural areas, they earn a below-average income but are adept at making it last: and one of their tried-and-true budgetary measures is buying stores’-own products,” Mr Reid said.
“People who purchase their bread at specialist bread stores tend to be very different to those who buy it at supermarkets, and although there is some crossover, offering white loaves for 85 cents is unlikely to change this,” Mr Reid said. “Woolies would have been more likely to win over Coles and ALDI customers if these supermarkets hadn’t been so quick to discount their own white loaves in response to the price reduction,” he said.
“The real threat will be to the ‘branded’ bread sold through supermarkets, when consumers are forced to compare the two products side by side — one much cheaper than the other,” Mr Reid said.