How do We REALLY feel about the Prices we Pay?

2013-07-29 05:59

We live in a tough economic environment. With petrol price hikes, electricity increases, food prices on the up and wages that are slowly but surely not meeting our bare necessities to survive.

But what are we as consumers doing about this?

Sure we can’t do anything about petrol and electricity – this is controlled by a higher power but food and the smaller luxury items that we used to enjoy to indulge ourselves in like confectionary, tobacco, coldrinks, liquor and even shopping at your favourite store have been compromised. We may still be buying our small indulgences but are we still buying our preferred brands or have we moved to buying cheaper brands that still provide some sort of satisfaction?

This brings me to price! Do we understand Recommended Retail Selling Price (RRSP)? Most manufacturers recommend to retailers the price that they should be selling their products at to their consumers. But most of these retailers, I believe, see this as an opportunity to slightly inflate this RRSP as it gives them an opportunity to make additional profit on every product sold. But we as consumers couldn’t be none the wiser as most products are not really labelled with what the RSP should be on those items that we would like to buy.

Let's think about this – we all know that cinema tickets are over inflated – does it really cost R50 to see a movie? Regardless of how many people show up to see the film? And yet we as consumers will complain and moan about the price of movies and yet still go! Never mind the exorbitant cost of all the additional treats you’d buy to take in with you. And yet we still pay.

And lets think about other items that we purchase on a daily or weekly basis but more importantly lets also think about where we purchase them from. We all know that our supermarkets are priced competitively and most of us tend to stick to our favourite to do our weekly or monthly shop. But sometimes it is nice to pop into one or two of the retail chains because there is nothing like it. But can one really justify paying over R80 for some chicken pieces? Yes we know its about quality but can we actually afford this? Probably not – and yet we still pay.

What about when we stop off at convenience stores? We’ve forgotten to get bread & milk for the next day, but lets get a 2L coke while we are there, oh and I need some cigarettes as well. Our little purchase has cost us over R100 – we could have bought two 2L cokes at the supermarket for the same price – in fact we probably would have received change from R100 if we had made the purchase from a supermarket – but what do we do? We get back into our cars, moan and complain about how expensive that little purchase was – and yet we still pay.

So how do we get around this? What is it that we would like to see? Would we like the RSP displayed on our products? For example – if a can of cooldrink displayed the RSP of (for example R6), or your pack of cigarettes politely displayed the RSP of R30, or your 2L coke R10? Would we still be proud to display our items at lunches or take them with us to braais? I think we have to be. Its time that we as consumers start being proud of the prices that we have paid – we always share with eachother where we got the best deals from anyway don’t we?

South Africans are known to complain. We complain about everything – from the prices we pay to the service we receive but we never do anything about it. If we receive bad service or food in a restaurant, we’ll complain or moan amongst ourselves but how many of us actually send the food back and we still pay a 10% tip because it’s the right thing to do.

The only way we can assist ourselves in these tough times is to change our attitudes and our shopping behaviour. Instead of going to our favoured supermarket – lets flip through the “supermarket specials catalogue” we receive in newspapers, magazines and our post boxes.

If a certain price has been displayed for a product and we are being overcharged – lets complain – we complain to friends but this isn’t going to change anything – we need to speak to management, or phone a customer care phone number. Its time we as consumers took control of our own spending.

Now Im not asking for us as consumers to start boycotting – no way. We don’t do that and that’s not how we should act. Change is slow and gradual – nothing will happen overnight. Im not expecting attitudes and perceptions to change instantaneously either. And Im not expecting manufacturers and retailers to start selling products at reasonable prices.

But what I am hoping is that we think about “the prices we pay vs the prices we SHOULD be paying” Ask yourself these questions: Would I like pricing to be visible on my chocolates, cigarettes, liquor, etc? Has my shopping behaviour changed in terms of shopping at my favourite store as much as I used to due to affordability? Am I buying no-name brands more often than before? Or how about bulk-buying? Because the answers to these questions can decide on where we shop and how often and only then do we as consumers start having a voice.

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