4 December 2013
A CHOICE review of some popular lipsticks, moisturizers and colognes has found Australians are paying up to 200% more than overseas consumers for exactly the same products.
With the emergence of online shopping, Aussie consumers are only too easily aware of the price differences in what they’re paying compared with overseas.
“Until recently, consumers relied on bricks-and-mortar stores to price products appropriately. But now it’s easier than ever to run a price check online to compare product prices – and many Aussies don’t like what they’re seeing,” says CHOICE journalist Kate Browne.
As an example, Revlon Colourstay Ultimate Suede Lipstick is priced at $A25.95 at davidjones.com.au. On British website boots.com it’s $A15.09, and at Walmart in the US the prices drops to $A7.89 (plus tax).
“There is no way price differences of this size can be explained by the usual arguments we hear about supposedly higher costs of doing business in Australia,” Browne says.
Thanks to consumer and local retail pressure, some products have recently come down in price. Brands such as Clinique, Shu Uemura and Lancome have announced price drops of up to 40% for some products. However, these drops can often just be a marketing ploy, reducing only one or two flagship products and making a big fuss about them.
“Price discrimination is an issue Aussie consumers face in many markets. CHOICE’s submission to the IT pricing inquiry queried why they’re often charged more than consumers overseas for a variety of computer, software, and gaming products.
“Our advice is that if you’re not happy with a price, shop around to find the best deal.”
Australian consumers can also check out the heavily discounted online-only retailers who primarily deal in parallel imports (also known as the grey market). One example, Strawberrynet.com, offers discounted goods and free shipping. Keep in mind, however, that parallel importing sometimes provides limited choice, and stock may be close to expiry or left over from a discounted line. There are no bells and whistles, but for the consumer who knows what they want, the savings are often worth it.
“If you think pricing is unfair, be vocal. Get in touch with the offending companies through social media and ask them why their prices vary.”
- When shopping for cosmetics and fragrances, don’t trust the first price you see
- Go online to do a price comparison
- Be vocal – look up the companies on social media and ask them directly why prices are different
*Average from 14 October to 14 November, according to the RBA