What Do Retail Reviews Reveal On Customers’ Price Perception?

Published on — Written by Wonderflow

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Wonderflow’s Business Intelligence is dedicated to bringing you valuable consumer insights based on the actual voice of the customer. In this analysis, we dig deeper into the effects of inflation, particularly customers’ price perception across major Italian supermarkets. Moving forward into 2023, as price concerns continue to rise, retail managers may use our insights to become more aware when creating a better customer experience. 

 

A recent article published by Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights, and consulting company, states that “the cost of living is now the primary concern for half of the world.” 

Through their Barometer, they also found out that after six months of the cost-of-living crisis, 53% of people struggle to meet their monthly outgoings, and 7 in 10 people worldwide expect inflation will rise further.*

Moreover, the concern around increasing prices has been a hot topic with anybody from institutions to private citizens trying to find solutions to contain rising inflation.

At Wonderflow, we also decided to look into this topic. Since we are experts in the Voice of the Customer, we wanted to understand customers’ perceptions of the price of their groceries. This category is, of course, an important “voice” on people’s monthly regular expenses, and grocery spending is a necessity and not a luxury. Therefore, we expect customers to have something to say about it.

To understand customers’ perception of retail prices, we analyzed around 5.2 million (!!!) online reviews across 19 major Italian retailers, including various types like supermarkets, hypermarkets, and discounters. Our data covers 2017 to 2022. 

We’ve focused on the importance of Price Perception compared with other aspects that customers evaluate when grocery shopping—also comparing the performance on this aspect across the different retailers.

Why Price Perception Strongly Affects Customer Satisfaction

Out of more than 30 topics analyzed in retail shopper reviews, Price Perception was the second most mentioned topic with a positive sentiment (after Product Availability). It is also the number one mentioned topic with a negative sentiment, with 20% and 6% of mentions, respectively (see graph 1 below). Overall, 1 out of 4 customers talk about Price when leaving a review online and after buying groceries at a store. 

Top 5 most mentioned aspects:

What Do Retail Reviews Reveal On Customers' Price Perception?

So, what does this already tell us? It says a lot about how important Price is to customers when evaluating the in-store shopping experience. 

But we see that even more when we look at Relevance, a KPI that tells us how frequently people mention a certain topic and how much this impacts customer satisfaction, either positively or negatively. In this case, we see that, across all the analyzed reviews, Price is the number one relevant topic, meaning that it is the strongest aspect in driving customer (dis)satisfaction. 

Additionally, we looked at the development over time, from 2017 to 2022, for the Relevance metric. We found that, until 2021, Price was becoming slightly less relevant as an aspect. In 2022, the trend shifted, and Price rose again in importance, especially when it comes to the negative sentiment. This means that, compared to 2021, Price has a higher impact on lowering customer satisfaction in 2022. This is quite understandable, considering that customers are more aware of price increases nowadays, and most are directly impacted by them.

Relevance Score trend – Price Perception

We can, in fact, read from customers’ real opinions about how they have noticed, and not appreciated, the price increase, which has generally occurred across retailers. For example, we came across these reviews in our analysis: 

Key Finding: Discounted retailers are more convenient, but less in 2022 and are predicted to remain so moving forward

Let’s look more in detail at the performance of the different retailers on the Price aspect. We find that, unsurprisingly, the discounters receive a higher percentage of positive reviews related to Price, with 30% of positive reviews on average and only 2% of negative ones. 

The two discounters that receive the highest amount of positive reviews on Price are IN’s (an Italian discounter) and Aldi (38% and 36%, respectively). In contrast, major European discount retailer Lidl has the lowest percentage of positive mentions for Price (25%).

Conversely, the situation is very different for Supermarkets and Hypermarkets, as we find only 13% of positive reviews about Prices and 9% of negative ones, meaning that there are almost as many customers satisfied with the prices as unsatisfied ones.

Looking at 2022 only, it is interesting to observe that, for Supermarkets and Hypermarkets, the situation hasn’t changed significantly (14% of positive reviews and 10% of negative ones). 

For the Discounters, we see a slight decline in positive mentions (from 30% to 27%) and twice as many negative comments for Price (from 2% to 4%). This makes sense if we consider that customers buying at discounters are more likely to be price-sensitive ones (though in recent years, the audience has definitely expanded). So they are the ones who are keeping a close eye on the evolution of prices.  

Final Thoughts

Customers have seen inflation rise across different sectors and products, impacting people’s daily life worldwide. Grocery has for sure taken a significant hit in the monthly budget, and we can read from customers’ reviews how aware shoppers are of the price increases. 

And while most tend to understand the reasons behind it all and the fact that this is a generalized situation, customers are still dissatisfied with prices increasing or even find it unacceptable. This is especially so when they perceive it as a disproportionate increase.

Customers have become more inclined to compare prices across retailers to understand where shopping is more convenient and whether offered prices align with the market. This creates a tough environment for retailers to compete in, with customers becoming highly informed and open to switching.

About Wonderflow

Wonderflow empowers businesses with quick and impactful decision-making because it helps automate and deliver in-depth consumer and competitor insights. All within one place, results are simplified for professionals across any high-UGC organization, and department to access, understand, and share easily. Compared to hiring more analysts, Wonderflow’s AI eliminates the need for human-led setup and analysis, resulting in thousands of structured and unstructured reviews analyzed within a matter of weeks and with up to 50% or more accurate data. The system sources relevant private and public consumer feedback from over 200 channels, including emails, forums, call center logs, chat rooms, social media, and e-commerce. What’s most unique is that its AI is the first ever to help recommend personalized business actions and predict the impact of those actions on key outcomes. Wonderflow is leveraged by high-grade customers like Philips, DHL, Beko, Lavazza, Colgate-Palmolive, GSK, Delonghi, and more.

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