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New survey gauges consumer reaction to bread price-fixing scheme

Respondents also weigh in on Loblaw’s $25 gift card apology

How are grocery shoppers reacting to Loblaw’s bread price-fixing admission and $25 gift card apology? According to a survey by consumer research app Caddle, 10% of Canadians said they won’t shop at Loblaw banners anymore and 26% said they would shop there less.

The six-question survey had 10,000 respondents. Asked if they’d heard about the “bread price-fixing scandal,” 80% said they had and 74% said they were aware of the $25 gift card “goodwill gesture.”

Asked what they thought the “appropriate ‘goodwill gesture’” should be, 30% thought $25 or less was fine, while 35% wanted $200 or more.

And while 36% said they thought the price-fixing would cause them to shop at Loblaw less (26%) or not at all (10%), 62% said it would have no bearing on where they shop for groceries (2% said they’ll shop at Loblaw banners more often).

“I fully assumed Canadians would like this is really annoying but I’ll get over it, especially with the strong hold Loblaw has with Optimum and PC Points,” said Ransom Hawley, CEO of Caddle. “We didn’t think the results would be so negative towards it.”

“Our experience has been just the opposite,” said Kevin Groh, vice-president of corporate affairs and communications for Loblaw Companies Limited, when asked about negative findings in the survey. “We’ve seen solid uptake on our card program and largely positive reactions in stores.

“Customers clearly don’t like that this behaviour happened, but they have told us they like our response—we stood up, reported the behaviour, admitted our role, and started to pay customers back directly and quickly through our $25 Loblaw Card program.”


Caddle conducted the survey independently, said Hawley. “We ran this on our own volition. No other parties were involved.”

Caddle specializes in consumer research and incentivized advertising. After downloading the Caddle app, users earn small payments for watching ads and answering short surveys. If they buy products promoted through the app, they get additional cash back (a model that impressed the dragons on Dragon’s Den in late 2016). For completing the Loblaw price-fixing survey, consumers added 10 cents to their Caddle accounts.

As a company focused on understanding how consumers feel about food and grocery shopping, Caddle has on occasion surveyed members on large industry issues as opposed to specific client requests.

“This is a colossal story… I think it is one of the biggest stories of 2017,” said Hawley. “From our perspective we wanted to understand what consumers thought about this quote unquote scandal.”

Though he acknowledged the Caddle team felt frustrated to learn what was going on and wanted to make sure customers knew about it. “Our members are Canadian value-conscious grocery shoppers,” he said. “You can probably sense some of the frustration in the survey… Within the questions we wanted to include the seriousness of this issue.” When respondents were asked about the appropriate goodwill gesture, the last option of a $200+ gift card also included the reminder: “they’ve been price fixing for 14 years!”


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