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Aussie shoppers avoiding supermarkets to seek out new options: 'More bang for their buck'

As Australian shoppers' mistrust for the supermarket giants continues to grow so does their interest in other options for sourcing groceries.

As Australians continue to lose faith in the nation's supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, many shoppers are looking for other places to source groceries. The search for more affordable options has resulted in home deliveries like meat subscriptions to spike in popularity.

Owners of the Aussie meat subscription business Our Cow say they’ve seen a 40 per cent increase in growth since January. Co-founder NSW Farmer Bianca Tarrant is sending meat from over 500 Australian farmers to more than 60,000 homes.

“2024 is shaping up to be one of our best years to date. Since January, we've increased our new customer base by 20 per cent and in March we experienced our biggest revenue growth month, up almost 50 per cent since 2023,” Tarrant told Yahoo Finance.

woman and man on quad bike
Our Cow founders Bianca and Dave started with a goal of 300 subscribers; in five years, they've grown it substantially to have thousands of members Australia-wide. (Source: Supplied)

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Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Gary Mortimer said with grocery prices continuing to grow, many consumers are looking for better deals for themselves and their families to get "a bigger bang for their buck", so it's only natural that they've turned to the convenience of subscription services.

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She puts the growth of her business down to shoppers wanting “great traceability” on what they purchase, along with a strong desire to support local farmers.

The recent findings from the parliamentary inquiry into supermarket prices have also played a key role.

“Since the Senate enquiry was launched, consumers are becoming more aware of the challenges we as farmers face to produce food,” she said.

“So consumers are taking charge of their wallets and exploring alternative ways to support Aussie farming families. Whether it's online services like us, their local butcher or Saturday farmers markets, consumers are making a conscious choice to ensure their money directly benefits the producers.”

The subscription service growth comes as new research data reveals distrust for Aussie supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths.

According to recently released Roy Morgan research, Coles has plunged 221 places from Australia’s fifth most trusted brand since December 2023 to the ninth most distrusted brand.

Woolworths also took a dive, moving 32 places from Australia’s second most trusted brand in December to become the nation’s 34th most trusted brand in March.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “We have been tracking trust and distrust of brands in Australia for more than seven years, but we have never seen a reputational crash as dramatic as Coles and Woolworths – not even Qantas".

Coles storefront
"The inquiry's findings highlight the importance of fair practices in the broader grocery sector," Our Cow founder Bianca Tarrant says. (Source: Reuters)

"This is in direct contrast to the soaring reputational trust that they gained during the pandemic," she said.

“Sadly, this is just the beginning. Our data reveals even more dramatic reputational declines in the coming months."

Mortimer said shoppers are thinking more about how and who they spend their money with, driving the growth of subscription services across the grocery sector.

“We’ve seen subscription models play out across the board from make-up and cosmetics to even things like toilet paper, and there is certainly a growth in subscription boxes that provide fresh fruit and veg or meat products,” he said.

“I think that shoppers today are quite savvy in how they make purchases of food and groceries; they are shopping across multiple brands and even across multiple channels.”

Outside Woolworths store
Mr Mortimer says shoppers are on the look out for "unit price savings" across a range of stores and grocery subscription services to save money. (Source: Getty)

Mortimer said subscription boxes now help to shape how Aussies shop with more variety, flexibility and transparency available to customers.

“In the past, grocery shopping was always a habitual mundane activity. We just did it every week. We never really thought about things, but I think now we are seeing the food and grocery prices really hitting the household budget, and we are now actively looking at ways we can get better bang for our buck,” he says.

“This may be shopping across multiple brands, using membership grocery services like Costco or signing up for a subscription box service.”

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