Posted: Thu 27th Jun 2024

From toothpaste to deodorant, Which? reveals the health products you should never buy at full price

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Prices of popular health products such as Colgate toothpaste and Gillette razors can fluctuate wildly and shoppers could save up to 50 per cent by buying them at the right time, Which? research has found.

The consumer champion analysed branded products sold at Asda, Boots, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco, and Waitrose, and, when available, at Aldi and Lidl.

Which? looked at like-for-like products from the three top-selling brands across 15 health and personal care product areas that were available for at least 42 weeks of the year between March 2023 and February 2024. Multi-buy offers and loyalty prices were excluded.

The consumer champion took a snapshot price for each product at the same time each week over the year.

Researchers discovered that personal care staples vary significantly in cost throughout the year for almost every big brand. This suggests that the products are regularly on a promotion cycle and consumers could get good deals if they shop around for health products.

Toothpaste brand Colgate’s Max White Ultimate Radiance (75ml) cost from £11 up to £25.20 throughout the year in Waitrose. Asda and Boots commonly priced the product at £12.

Elsewhere, researchers at Which? also discovered a variation in the cost of mouthwash across shops. An example was Colgate’s Max White Expert Whitening (500ml) which regularly sold at both £2.50 and £5 at all major supermarkets during the year. Meanwhile, another mouthwash, Listerine Advanced Defence Gum Crisp Mint (500ml), cost between £3 and £6 at Boots.

Another product the consumer champion looked at was deodorant, another category found to be frequently on offer. Sure Maximum Protection Clean Scent Anti-Perspirant (150ml) cost between £3.35 and £5 at Asda and £3.50 and £5.25 at Waitrose.

Sure Men’s Anti-Perspirant Aerosol Active Dry (200ml) was the most stably priced of the deodorants that Which? looked at although it was cheapest at Aldi (£1.95) and priciest at Waitrose (£3).

Lynx Africa deodorant (150ml) fluctuated in price everywhere it was stocked throughout the year—between £2.66 and £4.75 at Superdrug and £3 and £4 at Tesco.

Elsewhere, the investigation found that popular soap brands Carex and Palmolive, as well as Radox shower gel, benefit from more stable prices than other health products that we compared.

Consumers often had to pay more for razors, particularly some Gillette products. The Gillette Labs Razor with Exfoliating Bar cost £22.49 at Morrisons when it was full price, but was frequently reduced to half that amount, £11.25.

Those looking to purchase a Venus Razor were able to get one for slightly less—it cost between £6.48 and £14.99 for a Venus Comfortglide With Olay at Superdrug.

Allergy tablets emerged as another popular health product with significant price variations.

A packet of 30 Piriteze Hayfever and Allergy Relief Tablets at Waitrose was reduced in price from £11.50 to £8 between May and July 2023 and then it cost £11.55. At Boots, the same product was £10.55 from March to July 2023 and then it rose to £11.55. Consumers can save on hay fever products by opting for generic or own brands and stocking up when they see a deal as most tablets have a shelf life of at least a year.

Researchers also looked at sunscreen on shop shelves to see how prices varied. They found that consumers get the best deals in Spring and Summer as that is when demand is usually highest. The investigation revealed the biggest price difference was at Asda, where Nivea Protect and Moisture Sun Lotion SPF 30 (200ml) cost £6 from April to August 2023 and then more than doubled to £13 in September.

One of the more costly health products that the consumer champion looked at was condoms. Which? researchers discovered that a 12-pack of Durex Real Feel Non-Latex Condoms fluctuated between £11 and £18.15 throughout the year at Waitrose. The same product fluctuated by £5.50 at Superdrug and £5 at Boots compared to their best offers in-store.

The Which? investigation showed Asda was the cheapest supermarket overall for health products, based on a comparison of 107 like-for-like health and personal care goods from our analysis that were available at Asda, Boots, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco, and Waitrose throughout the year. Aldi and Lidl stock fewer brands so weren’t included. Asda was cheapest on average across 28 per cent of our products.

It was followed by Morrisons (26 per cent), Superdrug (16 per cent), Ocado (10 per cent), Boots and Sainsbury’s (7 per cent), and Tesco (5 per cent). Waitrose had the cheapest products just 2 per cent of the time.

Ele Clark, Which? Retail Editor, said:

“Retailers constantly change products’ prices based on demand, seasonality, agreements with manufacturers and what their competitors are doing.

“Which?’s advice in this fast-changing market is to keep an eye on the prices of products you buy regularly and stock up when the price is low—or ask yourself if it’s really essential to have your preferred brand and consider switching to a cheaper product that can do just as good a job.”

Which? approached all of the retailers involved to ask if they wanted to comment on the information about the health products above. Boots, Superdrug, and Waitrose told Which? that they aim to offer the best value to customers via a range of deals. The other supermarkets did not comment.

A spokesperson from Superdrug said: “We prioritise working with our suppliers to secure the lowest costs possible in order to offer the best price for customers. Our regular price promotions plus our additional ‘members only’ prices ensure our customers can make savings on their favourite products across the year. We regularly compare prices in the market to ensure they are competitive and offer genuine value and savings.”

A spokesperson from Waitrose said: “We are committed to offering great value and our offers are really popular with our customers.”

A spokesperson from Boots said: “We are committed to providing great value and unbeatable choice across the huge range of personal care products at Boots. We offer a comprehensive programme of deals and promotions, as well as exclusive prices for Boots Advantage Card members, to help customers buy the brands they love for less.”



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