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Product: Retail (Supermarket)
Advertiser: Aldi Stores (Ireland) Limited
Medium: Internet (Company Website), Television
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.31, 4.32
Three Television advertisements featured a family discussing their experience on shopping in Aldi. Each advertisement included the statement:
“We swapped to Aldi and saved €324”
Each advertisement also included the following on-screen text:
“Shopping took place from 01/02/21 – 08/03/21. Participants received a gratuity for participation. Prices compared between Supervalu and Aldi. Saving price is calculated on a pro rata basis. For further information see aldi.ie/tv”
The Aldi ‘Amazing Savings’ webpage featured a banner that included the image of 6 families and stated:
“Meet” above each of the families.
The banner also included the statement: “The Home Sweet Home of Swap & Save”
Under the banner it stated:
“You could swap and save today
Families all over Ireland are swapping their regular shop for Aldi, inspired by our award-winning quality and range. They’re making some pretty amazing savings too. But don’t take our word for it. See what our 6 new families had to say about swapping from their usual supermarket to Aldi.”
One of the families featured were pictured with a quote stating how much they had saved:
“We swapped and saved €324”
The Aldi/tv webpage featured an image of 6 families and stated:
“Shopping was completed on the dates shown below.
Shopping took place from 01/02/21 – 08/03/21. Participants received a gratuity for participation. Prices compared between Supervalu and Aldi. Saving price is calculated on a pro-rata basis.”
The webpage included a link to the product comparisons and also a link to meet the various families. The product comparison listed the products purchased in Aldi each week during the shopping period and price compared them to comparable products in Supervalu.
RGDATA objected to the advertising on the following grounds:
RGDATA considered that the premise of the campaign was misleading as the advertising was being presented on a basis that consumers swapped from one shop to Aldi and subsequently made savings. They considered that the savings were presented as those secured when the family swapped from their existing retailer to Aldi, however, this did not appear to be the case as they considered that the price savings had been contrived. RGDATA said that it appeared that a mixed basket of varying goods from Aldi were priced by the advertisers over a 6-week period which were then compared against groceries priced from another named retailer. They considered that this was a different proposition to that set out in the advertising as it did not appear that any consumer had switched to Aldi for 6 weeks and compared prices during that time period.
RGDATA considered that the advertising was misleading as the product and price comparison linked from Aldi/tv webpage only included information for one of the six families featured and no information had been provided in respect of the other families who they considered had been indicated as having made savings.
RGDATA objected to the time periods used in the campaign given that the grocery market was subject to pricing movements. They said that the time lag between the first shopping survey and the last of the purchases from the other named retailer was eleven weeks and during that time they considered that there were a range of pricing movements that could have happened, particularly at a time of intensive volatility in supplies due to Brexit.
RGDATA objected to some of the price comparisons chosen by Aldi as they considered that there were a number of instances where the other retailer’s own brand product could have been chosen when instead a more expensive branded product was used. They said that one of their members had estimated that if own brand products had been chosen for the price comparison, the price differential would have reduced by almost €130.
RGDATA objected to the advertising on the grounds that they considered the savings referenced were overstated due to the fact that some of the comparisons selected were incorrect. They referred to a product within the comparison listing, a washing detergent, which had a price difference of €17 and they also considered that in other instances, a directly substitutable and cheaper alternative could have been chosen.
Aldi replied to the issues raised by RGDATA:
Aldi advised that, as part of the campaign, they asked a family to complete their usual shop in Aldi for four weeks and after this, Aldi then compared the price of the products comprised in the four-week shop in Aldi with the equivalent products in the family’s previous supermarket and the savings claimed were based on this comparison. They said that it appeared from the complaint that RGDATA mistakenly believed that the savings claimed were based on Aldi collecting a mixed basket of grocery items from Aldi and comparing the price of equivalent products in other supermarkets. They said that there was no basis for the suggestion that the families identified in the advert did not actually participate in the Campaign and moreover, in so far as the Campaign suggested that the families swapped from their previous supermarket to Aldi, it was demonstrably true.
Aldi noted that the complainants considered the advertising was misleading because only one of the families in the campaign mentioned a savings claim, however, they did not consider that there was a basis to the complaint as nowhere in the advertising was there any claim as to the monetary value of savings for the other families by switching to Aldi.
Aldi stated that the savings claimed in the advertising were based on a family carrying out a four-week shop in Aldi and then comparing the price of an equivalent shop in their previous supermarket. They said that the savings claimed by a particular family did not relate to the price of individual products, rather the savings claimed related to the cost of a family’s four-weeks shopping in Aldi against the cost of an equivalent shop in their previous supermarket. They said that while it was conceivable that the prices of a limited number of the products comprised in the shopping may have changed during the period between when the shopping in Aldi occurred and the date on which the price comparison with the equivalent product in the family’s previous supermarket took place, any such price changes would not have had significant effect on the overall savings claimed. They also said that while it was possible that the price of some products may have increased in the period between when the shopping in Aldi occurred and when the comparison with the other supermarket took place, it was equally likely that the price of other such products may well have fallen.
Aldi stated that the details of the dates on which the shopping had taken place in Aldi and when the comparison with the previous supermarket took place was always clearly stated on the advertising. They said that consumers were aware that retailers frequently changed their prices and therefore, any consumer observing the advertisement would be aware that there could be changes in the prices of products during the period in which the shopping in the previous supermarket took place and when the comparison in Aldi took place and would factor that in when assessing the claims in the advert.
Aldi advised that when they were conducting the price comparison of an Aldi product with the equivalent product from another supermarket, they chose a product that was comparable to the product purchased by the family in Aldi. They provided an example, stating that if a family chose to purchase a midrange product in Aldi, in conducting the comparison, the comparable midrange product was chosen from the family’s previous supermarket.
Aldi stated that the savings had not been overstated and that they were calculated on a pro-rated basis. They said that they always chose a product that was comparable to the product purchased by the family in Aldi and that in this instance, the Aldi liquid detergent product had significantly more washes than the equivalent product in the other named retailer and a pro-rated price was applied.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Not Upheld
The Committee noted that the claim in the advertising was that the featured family had swapped to Aldi and saved €324, and the advertising had also provided dates during which the shopping had taken place in Aldi. The Committee noted that the premise of the campaign was that the family featured carry out their usual grocery shop in Aldi for six named weeks and after this six-week period, Aldi then compared the family’s shops with comparable products in the family’s previous supermarket. The Committee noted that the advertisers had provided information within the advertisement showing the dates that the shopping had taken place, where the prices had been compared against and a website address where further information could be viewed and that the web address had included a link to the product comparison list which had shown all products purchased in Aldi during the six-week period and the comparable products priced in the family’s previous supermarket
The Committee noted that the couple featured in the TV advertisement discussed their shopping experience in Aldi and referred to how much they had saved. They did not consider that the basket of goods had been contrived. In the circumstances, they did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
Issue 2 - Upheld
The Committee noted that the television advertising had only featured one family during each part of the campaign and this family were the only family featured on the website at that time that included a savings claim. In regard to the website, the Committee noted that while other families had been shown, no specific savings claim had been made on the website for any of the other families. However, they were featured in the “The Home Sweet Home of Swap & Save” with text stating “They’re making some pretty amazing savings too”. The Committee noted that substantiation for the claim that these families had experienced savings on swapping to the advertisers’ stores had not been submitted and in the circumstances, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of sections 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
Issue 3 - Upheld
The Committee noted that the dates the shopping had taken place in Aldi were provided in the advertising and that the date of the comparisons with the named retailer were provided on the product comparison list. On reviewing the dates, the Committee noted that the price comparison had taken place on the 9th and 14th of April which was four weeks after the shops in Aldi had been completed.
Noting the acceptance in the response that comparator prices may have fallen or increased, and that a premise for the campaign was predicated in savings, the Committee considered that there was sufficient potential for differentials in the advertised savings due to comparator pricing fluctuations over the whole period. In the circumstances, as the saving claim has been presented as an absolute, the Committee considered that the advertising had the potential to mislead and was therefore in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
Issue 4 – Not Upheld
The Committee noted that the complainants considered that as some branded products had been used as a comparison against products purchased in Aldi, it was not a fair comparison. The Committee noted the explanation that comparable products to those purchased by the family had been chosen e.g., if a mid-range product was purchased in Aldi, then a similar mid-range product was purchased in the family’s previous supermarket.
The Committee did not consider that per se the comparison of branded products versus non-branded products constituted a breach of the Code.
Issue 5 – Not Upheld
The Committee noted that the advertising had stated that the saving price was calculated on a pro-rata basis and the explanation that comparable products to those purchased by the family had been chosen. The Committee noted that the product referred to by the complainants was a washing detergent that was a branded product priced at €6.70 in the named retailer and had a volume of 25 washes, whereas the Aldi product purchased by the family was priced at €5.79 and had a volume of 85 washes and that the pro-rata price comparison according to Aldi was €22.78. Given that the advertising had indicated that the saving price was calculated on a pro-rata basis, in this instance the Committee did not consider that a breach of the Code had occurred on the basis suggested in the complaint.
The advertising must not reappear in its current format.