Big Supermarkets and Confusing Promotional Labels

1 in 4 people didn’t know whether price labels represented a discount on the usual price 

New nationally representative data from consumer group CHOICE has revealed on average 1 in 4 people find it difficult to identify if certain supermarket labels represent a true discount or not. 

CHOICE asked over 1,000 consumers if they could tell if a variety of price tags photographed at Woolworths, Coles and Aldi stores represented discounts on the usual price, and how easily and quickly they were able to determine whether it was a discount or not. 

Coles ‘while stocks last’ tag

“This Coles ‘while stocks last’ tag caused the most confusion. When we asked our respondents if this price was a discount on the usual price, approximately one third believed the product was discounted, roughly another third believed it wasn’t and the remaining third were not sure,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns, Rosie Thomas.

“Less than half of respondents said they could quickly and easily identify if the ‘while stocks last’ label was a discount or not, reinforcing just how confusing this tag is. To make things worse, even after asking Coles, CHOICE still doesn’t know if this is a discount or not,” says Thomas.

Read the full story here: 

“The countless types of labels used by the major supermarkets are clearly confusing consumers, who are struggling to determine what is and is not a genuine discount. This is particularly concerning considering many people are trying to make their grocery shop as affordable as possible in a cost of living crisis,” says Thomas.

“For many of the labels in our survey, less than half of the respondents could quickly and easily determine if a product was discounted or not. If those are the results for an online survey, people rushing to do their weekly shop in a busy supermarket will likely have even less of a chance of correctly decoding these unclear labels,” says Thomas.

Woolworths ‘prices dropped’

“This Woolworths ‘prices dropped’ label also confused respondents, with only half of respondents saying they could quickly and easily tell if the product was discounted or not,” says Thomas.

“The price of this coconut water dropped back in 2019, when it was reduced from $6 to $4. We have doubts about whether a product that has been the same price for almost 5 years should be promoted as having a ‘dropped’ price. It’s no wonder consumers were confused as to whether it’s actually discounted or not,” says Thomas. 

Aldi ‘super savers’

“[An example] ‘super savers’ label at Aldi also confused people, with around a third of people unsure if it was a discount. Again, less than half of the respondents said they could quickly and easily tell if it was a discount or not,” says Thomas.

CHOICE has made a submission to the ACCC Supermarkets Inquiry calling for stronger rules about how prices are displayed. This should include rules to stop supermarkets from using terms, designs or colours that indicate a discount is being offered when the product is not discounted.

“We have had hundreds of people share examples of potentially misleading pricing practices at the major supermarkets, with many being confused about whether a product is discounted or value for money. People are sick of feeling like they are being tricked by the supermarkets each time they head in store or online,” says Thomas.

“It is disappointing that none of the supermarkets we spoke to acknowledged the harm that these confusing labels are causing – this is why we need stronger laws around pricing practices that would ensure supermarkets do right by consumers,” says Thomas. 

Submission and images are available here:

Read the full story here: 

Sign the petition for fair, transparent grocery pricing:

Media contact: Erin Barton, 0430 172 669,

Editor’s notes: 

In February 2024, we conducted a nationally representative survey of over 1,000 people to gather insights into their understanding of supermarket labels and tags and the terminology used by Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. 

We showed each respondent nine images taken of supermarket labels using different phrases or terminology and asked them if they thought the price represented a discount on the usual price. We also asked whether this was quick and easy to identify. 

The above is a CHOICE media release (23/04/2024).