Trust in Coles and Woolworths Plummets Amid Price-Gouging Allegations

Australians’ trust in Coles and Woolworths has plummeted, according to Roy Morgan’s latest quarterly rankings. Woolworths, which had been the top trusted brand since May 2020, has dropped to the 34th position, following accusations of price-gouging alongside rival Coles. Coles has suffered even more, plummeting a record-breaking 221 places to become the ninth least trusted brand in Australia.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine highlighted the unprecedented nature of this decline. “In our seven years of tracking brand trust and distrust, we’ve never seen such a dramatic fall as that of Coles and Woolworths — not even Qantas,” Levine stated. She contrasted this with the surge in trust these supermarkets experienced during the pandemic, predicting even steeper declines in the coming quarter. “The rapid erosion of trust in Woolworths and Coles shows how quickly distrust can escalate and damage a brand’s reputation,” she added, citing an old Dutch saying, “Trust arrives on foot but leaves on horseback.”

Meanwhile, Bunnings has reclaimed the title of Australia’s most trusted brand, with Aldi rising to second place thanks to Woolworths’ fall. Kmart, Apple, and Toyota have also seen improvements, rounding out the top five trusted brands. Nintendo, Cotton On, and Youi made notable gains in trust rankings, with Nintendo praised for its consumer-friendly approach and reliable products.

Conversely, Optus remains Australia’s least trusted brand for the third consecutive quarter, followed by Facebook/Meta, Qantas, Telstra, and News Corp. New to the least trusted list is Chinese online retailer Temu, criticized for misleading product images, poor quality, and data privacy concerns.

Overall, trust in Australian companies has significantly declined over the past year, driven by cost of living pressures and inflation. Levine pointed out that companies prioritizing profits over customers are fueling this distrust. “Increasing prices to maintain profit levels is seen as exploiting customer loyalty, leading to rising distrust, particularly towards banks and supermarkets,” she said. She also noted growing public anger towards banks, which continue to post large profits amid rising mortgage rates and living costs.

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