Do customers really want to buy local?

17/10/2012

Coles supermarkets have upset customers by dropping the Mainland cheese brand from its supermarkets in favour of Australian products.

Two months after withdrawing Mainland from its cheese lineup in August, Coles has been forced to explain the move following customer complaints, which continue on the company’s website. Coles said the decision was part of commitment to Australian-made products. It aims to stock 90 percent locally made groceries.

“In a recent review, we set to ensure the vast majority of our cheese range is Australian-made and as a cheese manufactured in New Zealand, Mainland was one of the brands we replaced with an Australian-made option,” Melbourne-based Coles said on its website. “Coles Brand cheese is also now 100 percent Australian following a new contract with Bega.” . . .

The supermarket wants to stock 90% locally made groceries but at least some of its customers are less concerned about where their cheese comes from, they want Mainland.

Feedback on the Coles website suggests Australian customers sympathise with the sentiment, but not the decision.

An indicative comment, from a customer named Valerie, said: “I prefer buying local produce where possible, but Mainland is a superior product. We’ve always shopped at Coles in the past but will now have to go to Woolies to get a decent cheese.”

Buy local is a marketing ploy but where something is produced is only one factor customers consider. The quality of a product can be more important than its country of origin. Price will also be a consideration.

Fonterra isn’t concerned about Coles’ action.

Bega was licensed to Fonterra in 2001 and other supermarket chains are still stocking Mainland products.


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