The invisible price reduction

Swedish discount warehouse chain Coop Forum is running an advertising campaign claiming "New Lower Prices!", but how can you tell? Apparently you're not supposed to (shocking!) compare current prices against what they were before the ad campaign.

Raymond's bad translation follows.

Coops "new" price reduction not new

A major new price reduction advertising campaign issued by discount warehouse chain Coop Forum this week to all households in the Stockholm area could be misleading.

The list of which merchandise which actually had their prices lowered, that is secret, according to Roger Gehrman, vice managing director for Coop Forum.

"The price structure is one of the probably most important trade secrets we have," he says.

But you claim that you are lowering prices. How can one be sure that you really are doing it?

"You can't compare today's prices with how they were earlier," says Roger Gehrman.

Difficult to know for both Ica and Coop

It is almost just as hard to get a grasp on Coop's claimed price reduction as it is with Ica's.

Ekot's check shows that both chains refuse to show which individual items were lowered or how large individual price reductions are.

Don't want to report which items were reduced

Coop's manager Roger Gehrman doesn't even want to state which product categories were reduced the most.

"I don't want to go into that. It is nearly all of our product range but I don't have detailed knowledge to talk about a specifically reduced product and I don't have the list in front of me either," he says.

This week's advertising flyer from Coop Forum to households in the Stockholm region are misleading. "Welcome to our largest price reduction ever" and "New lower prices" says the discount warehouse chain now about a price reduction which in the Stockholm area was already put into place last autumn.

"It happened at the end of October 2004," says the Coop Forum manager.

One figure Coop management did release, and that's how much the 7,000 items were reduced on average: five percent.

Comments (17)
  1. There are quite a few companies that do similar things here.

    I remember a few years back a shampoo company advertised a new lower price. Well what they didn’t mention is that they also reduced the size of the bottle to compensate.

  2. Entirely off topic but I know you have an interest in most things Swedish. Are you having semlor this weekend? As an expatriate it has been a while since I’ve had them but I am determined to make me some this weekend.

    Recipe here:

  3. David Kitchen says:

    Further off-topic, I need to get some chocolate for the children that will come round dressed as easter witches and ask for sweets for their easter eggs.

    This will be one for those interested in Sweden to check out… witches meeting on blue hill :)

    Find a starter here:

    And a google for you here:

  4. Gene Cash says:

    So Sweden doesn’t have an advertising standards board, then?

  5. David Heise says:

    I’ve actually seen US furniture companies do something similar. I was shopping for a new kitchen table and found one I liked for one price, but decided to sleep on it. The next day they were having a "sale" in which the sale price was HIGHER than the previous price yet it was "marked down" 20% (They first marked it way up then gave the 20% discount from that price!)

    Needless to say I stopped even looking at their stores.

  6. Kristoffer: What about waffles? Today is våffeldagen here.

  7. I almost missed waffle day? That’s not right. Time to break out the waffle maker.

  8. Anonymous kitten says:

    I don’t know about Coop, I never buy from them, but ICA… before the day they were supposed to lower their prices, some of the ICA stores had already lowered on some of the merchandise, which had the effect that some people could show that the marked down price was the same as before the day they were supposed to lower them.

    IIRC, there was however other items that got a lower price claim, when they had had that price for far longer already.

    It’s not the first time swedish stores do this. Right after christmas when everyone have big sales, there were several cases where they had just taken the old price and put it on a "lower price" sticker. People found out because they had not even bothered to remove the original price sticker, so you could remove the new one and see that the price was the same.

  9. Anonymous kitten says:

    As an aside to the above, ICA and other chains have recently also REMOVED prices for some packed merchandise, like meat, and only put up a sticker that says the price per kg, and a barcode sticker on the package itself.

    They did put up barcode terminals so that you can actually find out what it costs without having to calculate it or ask at the counter.

    Either way, it’s just another thing that wants me to leave this rotting country.

  10. Even better: the local gas station near me has good prices on milk, the best I’ve found. But, they don’t advertise the price anymore outside the store. Not only that, they don’t even tell you what it is *in* the store. You have to buy it to find out.

    You might say "well, just ask the person at the counter". Result: vacant teenager stare, with a 20% possibliity of drool, and still no price.

  11. Insane Troll says:

    In other news, don’t buy a flash MP3 player that has no stopwatch. The stopwatch is an important feature. You think that you don’t need a stinking stopwatch in your MP3 player? THINK AGAIN!

    So why, you ask, would you need a stopwatch on your MP3 player? I admit, I have not the faintest idea. I’ve got the info from this source of reliable information, along with other invaluable hints on how to chose an MP3 player:

    So, how does all this relate to super market pricing in Sweden? Here’s the common morale: DON’T TRUST MARKETING.

  12. Brian Hjøllund says:

    Insane Troll, your choice of name fits. ;)

    As for the marketing scheme, the same thing happens here in Denmark, must be a scandinavian thing. But then again, Coop also has branches here.

  13. Ross Bemrose says:

    Scott, that’s interesting.

    Not having prices in the store is illegal where I live:

    For the items that they aren’t required to put price stickers on, they are required to have signs that state the price.

  14. Stuart Visser says:

    "I’ve actually seen US furniture companies do something similar. I was shopping for a new kitchen table and found one I liked for one price, but decided to sleep on it. The next day they were having a "sale" in which the sale price was HIGHER than the previous price yet it was "marked down" 20% (They first marked it way up then gave the 20% discount from that price!)

    "Needless to say I stopped even looking at their stores."

    In Australia, we have something called the "Trade Practices Act (1974)", designed to prevent this kind of behaviour (among others), and impose penalties where it is breached:

  15. Ben Hutchings says:

    In England (and possibly but not necessarily throughout the UK) there is a law that requires that the price with which "sale" prices are compared with must have been used for, I think, at least 28 days out of the last 6 months.

  16. Ben Hutchings says:

    Insane Troll: I think that page can be summarised as "if you want an MP3 player, buy a WMA player, and certainly not an iPod".

  17. Anon says:

    That reminds me of a sale that some clothes store had a couple years back. The signs were promising :

    "Buy any item at twice the regular price, receive any item of equal or lesser value, absolutely free!"

    A friend of mine was working there, and she said that you wouldn’t believe how many people came up and bought a $20 shirt for $40, just so they could get a $15 pair of pants for free.

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