9 min read
CYL - Jul 7, 2023

Supermarket Showdown: Analyzing and Ranking the Top Retail Giants in SEA

In today's fast-paced digital era, where grocery shopping happens in a flash, supermarkets face a twofold challenge—bland choices and even potential scandals.


In 2013, Europe was gripped by the notorious "Horsemeat Scandal," as major supermarket chains unwittingly sold beef products that were found to contain horsemeat. Meanwhile, in China, supermarkets faced international backlash when it came to light that counterfeit baby powder was being sold to unsuspecting parents for their newborns. These shocking incidents sparked widespread fears regarding the safety of food products and the need for transparent labeling practices, fundamentally altering consumers' perceptions of their grocery shopping experiences and highlighting the need to be able to monitor consumer sentiments more than ever. 


In this cutthroat market, where numerous supermarket chains strive to capture the largest slice of the pie- vying for market share, it becomes essential to analyze and compare each brand's pricing strategies, customer experience, and market positioning. Analyzing over 4.8 million mentions of the consumer experience posted on various social media platforms in 2022-2023, supermarkets reign supreme as the cornerstone of the competitive retail landscape, catering to consumers' insatiable needs for essential goods and services.


By utilizing Digimind Historical Search, we can now delve into a comprehensive analysis of various leading supermarkets, including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, AEON, Big C, and Don Don Donki, to shed light on the distinctive characteristics and competitive advantages of these supermarkets, particularly from the perspective of everyday consumers.








#1 NTUC FairPrice: A Trusted Brand with Competitive Pricing 

NTUC FairPrice is a trusted and widely recognized brand in Singapore, renowned for its competitive pricing and high-quality products. As a cooperative supermarket chain, FairPrice operates to moderate Singapore's cost of living. It encompasses various subsidiaries, some of which are backed by the government. For many Singaporeans, the name NTUC FairPrice holds significance beyond being just a supermarket brand—it represents a symbol of affordability, reliability, and community support.

In recent news, NTUC FairPrice has implemented an honor system approach for plastic bag payments. Customers are encouraged to pay a small fee for plastic bags to promote environmental consciousness and reduce plastic waste. However, this initiative has faced some challenges and hiccups during its implementation, highlighting the need for further adjustments and education among customers.



Despite that, NTUC FairPrice is a well-established supermarket chain in Singapore, known for its commitment to providing quality products at competitive prices, with the mission to moderate the cost of living in Singapore. 


Furthermore, Fairprice's operational framework encompasses a comprehensive range of initiatives, transcending conventional market practices. Earlier in November, FairPrice gave a 1% discount for 500 commonly bought items for the first half of 2023 to offset the increase in the goods and services tax (GST). The grocery chain also had various discount programs throughout the week and previously slashed prices on specific items, such as eggs and cooking oil, when they became more expensive.


This is despite the fluctuations in the cost of food due to shortages precipitated by the war, export band on agricultural commodities in the interest of safeguarding domestic food security in countries like India (wheat) and Indonesia (palm oil). With an average of 3.8% increase in price, Singapore’s prices were notably more stable than global prices, which averaged a 25% increase.


Through its economies of scale and strong supplier relationships, NTUC FairPrice is able to negotiate favorable pricing, passing the cost savings onto its customers. Through its holistic approach, Fairprice continues to revolutionize the landscape of commerce, elevating the consumer experience and epitomizing the virtues of economic acumen and social responsibility.


#2 AEON: Calculated Expansion and Holistic Shopping Experiences (17.2%)

As a multinational retail conglomerate, AEON operates an extensive network of over 20,000 stores, offering comprehensive supermarkets that cater to diverse shopping needs.



AEON's supermarkets boast a wide range of products, encompassing groceries, household goods, apparel, electronics, and much more. Their approach revolves around providing a one-stop shopping experience, aiming to conveniently fulfill all customers' everyday needs under a single roof. By offering such a holistic shopping experience, AEON appeals to both individuals and families, positioning itself as more than just a supermarket but as a lifestyle hub. Customers appreciate the convenience and affordability of AEON's products, which contributes to the positive sentiment associated with the brand. 


Furthermore, a recent meeting with Vietnam's Prime Minister revealed AEON's plans to expand its presence in Vietnam. The executive chairman of AEON, Akio Yoshida, highlighted the company's commitment to Vietnam as its most significant investment destination abroad. To date, AEON has invested an impressive amount of over US$1.18 billion in Vietnam. With the opening of six trade centers in cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hai Phong, AEON has already made a notable presence in the Vietnamese market. The company's plans to open an additional 20 shopping centers in Vietnam demonstrate a clear strategy for further expansion and market penetration.


#3 Carrefour: Embracing Innovation and Sustainability (5.2%)

Carrefour, the global retail giant, has had a complex relationship with Southeast Asian (SEA) countries, characterized by both admiration and criticism. In 2010, Carrefour faced challenges in SEA, leading to its retreat from the region due to struggles with online retail and the slow adoption of efficient supply chain systems. However, the company has made a notable comeback and regained popularity, particularly in Taiwan and China.

Notably, one key factor that has contributed to Carrefour's regained prominence is its unwavering commitment to customers. This commitment was exemplified in April 2022, during the Shanghai lockdown, when Carrefour staff went above and beyond to ensure that residents had access to essential supplies. In a remarkable display of dedication, Carrefour employees slept in the stores and prepared over 3,000 orders daily, ensuring a steady flow of vegetables, meat, and everyday products to support those in strict lockdown. This act of solidarity demonstrated Carrefour's dedication to serving the community, even in challenging circumstances, resulting in an overall positive consumer sentiment.

In the early months of 2023, Carrefour further solidified its position by signing a strategic agreement with Yingjiang authorities. This agreement aimed to empower Carrefour's supply chain system through technological advancements. By embracing new technologies, Carrefour embarked on the creation of a robust supply chain that integrates both online and offline retail channels. Additionally, the company embraced a new community shopping model, distinguishing itself through its emphasis on innovation and sustainability.


#4 Don Don Donki: Unique Japanese Retail Experience (4.3%)

Don Don Donki, a renowned Japanese discount store chain, has made a significant impact on the Asian retail landscape, with more than 15 outlets in the tiny island of Singapore and plans for further expansion. This popular supermarket chain stands out for its vibrant atmosphere and unique range of products, specializing in Japanese offerings that span from fresh-to-eat food and beverages to cosmetics and household goods.

Although Don Don Donki faced a sushi scandal in Singapore, where a customer discovered a parasitic worm in her meal, the supermarket's popularity has remained largely unaffected. The swift response from the company helped address concerns related to their sushi products, providing reassurance to consumers and educating them about safe eating practices. By addressing the problem at hand promptly, this proactive approach helped mitigate the impact of the incident and maintain customer trust in the brand.

Don Don Donki's strategic positioning as an affordable provider of authentic Japanese items has garnered a devoted customer base, particularly among enthusiasts of Japanese culture and cuisine. The supermarket chain's commitment to offering a wide range of Japanese products at competitive prices appeals to consumers seeking an authentic experience without breaking the bank.


#5 Big C: Combining Affordability and Accessibility (3.8%)

Big C, a prominent supermarket chain in Thailand and Vietnam, has gained significant popularity among both tourists and locals. With its large-format stores, often spanning multiple stories, Big C provides a spacious shopping environment and offers a diverse selection of products. By leveraging economies of scale and efficient supply chain management, Big C offers competitive prices without compromising on quality. Its appeal stems from the perfect combination of affordability and accessibility, making it a go-to choice for many. In fact, many tourists that visit Thailand view Big C as one of the “must-go” essential stops to visit during their trip, with many buying Thai products in bulk, drawn to Big C due to its wide range of local snacks and delicacies, allowing them to explore and indulge in the culinary culture of Thailand at affordable prices.


social listening marketing strategy 2022


These observations underscore the significance of comprehending consumer preferences and resolving their concerns, which is particularly vital in the supermarket industry. Social listening tools, such as Digimind, empower supermarkets to actively monitor and engage with consumer sentiments, enabling them to adapt to emerging trends and make well-informed decisions. By leveraging the power of social listening, supermarkets can bolster their brand reputation, enhance the overall shopping experience, and cultivate stronger connections with their customers.


Written by CYL