Supermarket shoppers across the country are taking to social media to hit out at Arnott’s Biscuits over the news the company is reducing the size of multi-packs for its popular Tiny Teddy and Shapes products because of concerns about energy costs.
Arnott’s confirmed in a statement to SmartCompany this morning it is moving its snack packs into more “environmentally-friendly cardboard boxes that fit better on the supermarket shelf”, and while the weight and contents of individual snack packs won’t change, the number of units inside will.
“We have changed the number of snack-packs across some of our multi-packs from 10 to 8, to suit smaller households and from 10 to 12s and 15s to suit larger households,” spokesperson Nicky Thomson said.
Arnott’s says just like any other business, it must review the price point of products from time to time, and “recent increases in energy costs mean costs across our Australian bakeries are higher”.
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However, it says it is not increasing the overall recommended retail price of its products, but rather changing the way units are packaged, explaining customers can still buy packs of 15 Shapes and Teddies biscuits at the same price as before.
The new eight-pack units of Tiny Teddies are advertised online at Coles for $4.40, or 55c per unit. The fifteen packs are advertised at $6.60, bringing the per-unit price down to 44c, which is on par with what each unit was worth when the packs of 10 were previously on offer.
This has not been enough to satisfy customers, however, with angry punters taking to social media to explain they have a routine for buying the snack packs for their children and grandchildren to take to school, and the change in unit packaging is far from convenient for those wanting to buy 10 individual snack packs at once.
Some shoppers threatened to ditch Arnott’s altogether, citing Aldi’s alternative product.
The Arnott’s social media team responded to concerns with a pre-written statement to shoppers.
“Rest assured you’ll still regularly find our products on special and our variety box packs (sold as 15s) are still the same RRP,” the company said.
However, digital strategist and founder of Social Concepts Jessica Humphreys says offering a stock-standard response on social media for these types of complaints is always a risk.
“I strongly recommend not copying and pasting the same response, you’re not actually addressing the issue,” she says, highlighting that for a brand like Arnott’s, for which many shoppers have a strong connection from childhood, the best response would include a “human” answer.
Brands often have to make changes to the appearance of their products, but director of InsideOut PR Nicole Reaney says communicating this is always about the trust element.
“It’s always advisable for brands to be on the front-foot and be upfront in their communication as consumers are more likely to build trust and compassion towards the organisation,” she says.
When you set a price for a certain amount of products, you’re “setting an expectation” that there is a certain level of quality attached, says Reaney.
If the change to a product is noticeable, you really have no choice but to mention it, she believes.
“If they are significant or potentially noticeable it is advisable for companies to inform their consumers or clients,” she says.