The latest Which? supermarket satisfaction survey has shown the extent to which shoppers are focusing on quality and price. Based on the views of 11,000 Which? members, the survey rates supermarkets on customer satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a retailer to a friend.

We’ve found the most important factor in choosing a supermarket is whether it offers good value. But that’s not as simple as just offering the lowest prices retailers have to get the balance between cost and quality right.

Waitrose came out on top once again, with a customer score of 82% and five-star ratings for its customer service and the quality of its fresh produce. Tesco was rated the worst of the nine major supermarkets, with a customer score of 45%. It got poor marks for pricing, store environment, quality of fresh produce and customer service. Tesco’s online service, however, was rated more favourably (63%).

“Much more can be done to help shoppers on tight budgets”

Reflecting the current economic climate, discounters Aldi (74%) and Lidl (69%) did well, coming second and third respectively and beating the likes of Morrisons (59%), Sainsbury’s (58%) and Asda (53%). Aldi and Lidl got four-star ratings for pricing, with 97% of members saying they both offered good value.

However, the survey revealed trust in the supermarkets is generally quite low, with only 21% of shoppers trusting them to charge a fair price for food. The survey was carried out before ‘Horsegate’, so the fallout from that remains to be seen.

The survey found the biggest irritation was not being able to compare prices because of different unit measurements. Which? is campaigning for clearer, more consistent unit pricing. This includes making the unit price more prominent and moving to more consistent pricing by weight or volume across all stores. This will make it easier for consumers to compare products and spot the best deals. Some supermarkets are starting to make improvements here, but action is needed across the board.

Special offers also remain a frustration for many. Which? members say they want supermarkets to keep special offers simple, with 55% preferring straight discounts ahead of other offers such as petrol vouchers (16%) or bogof deals (11%). Showing the unit price for products included in offers would make it much easier for people to see the best deal.

Overall, the survey highlighted a real opportunity for supermarkets to build trust with more transparent pricing. Much more can be done to help shoppers on tight budgets by scrapping misleading price promotions and introducing clear, consistent unit pricing so that it is easier to compare what is really best value.

Sue Davies is chief policy adviser at Which?