Published: December 19, 2019 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance
Where do you usually buy your groceries from? For sure, you have shopped at one or both of the two largest grocery retail chains in the Philippines: SM Markets (which covers SM Hypermarket, SM Supermarket, and Savemore) and Puregold.
You’re probably wondering which supermarket has cheaper products and better services. Should you stay loyal to your favorite grocery store? Does switching to another one make a more sulit choice? Let’s find out in this SM Hypermarket vs Puregold review.
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SM Markets (1) is the market leader in the Philippine food retail industry with 645 branches nationwide as of September 2018, according to the 2019 Food Retail Sectoral Report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2).
While SM Hypermarket is under the same group that operates SM Supermarket and Savemore, these three grocery store types are different from each other.
SM Supermarket, the pioneer brand of SM’s Food Retail Group, sells a wide range of food and non-food items and services inside SM malls.
SM Hypermarket, a hybrid of a department store and supermarket, has a larger selling area and offers a broader array of non-food products (e.g., clothes, household items, appliances, furniture, etc.) than SM Supermarket. Locations are either inside SM malls or in stand-alone stores.
Savemore is a stand-alone, mid-format supermarket that’s smaller than SM Hypermarket and SM Supermarket. Built as a neighborhood store for impulse purchases, Savemore serves shoppers in smaller communities where the availability of grocery products is either limited or non-existent.
Puregold Price Club, Inc. (3) is among the top three supermarket chains in the Philippines, based on the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s report. The grocery retail giant has a total of 408 stores nationwide (including Puregold supermarkets, S&R warehouse clubs, and S&R fast-food restaurants) as of the end of 2018 (4). Most of these are stand-alone stores, while other Puregold branches are located inside some Ayala Malls.
Puregold’s growth is phenomenal, considering that it’s been operating since 1998 and has gone head-to-head with its bigger and more established competitors, SM Markets and Robinsons Supermarket, which both started operations way earlier in 1985.
For an apple-to-apple comparison, this Battle of the Brands edition focuses on SM Hypermarket vs Puregold.
Which is a cheaper place to shop: Puregold or SM Hypermarket?
There’s no conclusive answer as to which supermarket offers lower prices. Some products in SM Hypermarket are either cheaper or more expensive than Puregold and vice versa.
Interestingly, SM Markets don’t have uniform pricing across all stores. So don’t be surprised to find a certain toothpaste priced differently at two different supermarkets in SM.
What’s certain is that both grocery retail giants provide value-for-money choices to their customers.
For grocery shoppers on a budget, SM Hypermarket offers affordable food and household products under its private label brand SM Bonus. Compared to products from popular brands, SM Bonus items— ranging from rice and cooking oil to ice cream and toilet paper—are a lot cheaper. Giving more options for stretching your budget are the Valuepacks that consist of different SM Bonus products and/or items from other brands bundled in one low-cost package.
Puregold may not have its own brand similar to SM Bonus, but it does offer promos and discounts on wholesale purchases and bundled items.
Generally, SM Hypermarket is the go-to place for grocery shopping because of its broader range of products compared to Puregold and even other supermarkets in the country. Most branches, especially in bigger SM malls, stock a wider assortment of gourmet and international products.
Since Puregold caters to sari-sari store owners and low-income consumers, it sells mostly local items. However, some stores in more upscale neighborhoods sell more premium and imported items to middle income-earners.
Puregold carries certain local brands that SM Hypermarket doesn’t have. For instance, there was a time (around mid-2009 to early 2013) when SM Markets stopped selling Colgate-Palmolive products due to a billing dispute between the two companies. Delimondo, an emerging brand of corned beef and other food items, has been on the shelves of Puregold stores for a long time before making its way in SM Markets in recent years.
SM Hypermarket and Puregold offer loyalty programs that let customers gain rewards points with every in-store purchase and use them to pay for their future purchases. Cardholders also enjoy exclusive discounts, freebies, and other promos.
Frequent SM Hypermarket shoppers can get an SM Advantage Card (SMAC) and use it to earn and redeem points not only at supermarkets in SM malls but also at SM Retail and partner merchants nationwide.
The SMAC membership fee is PHP 200, which is valid for five years. Before your SM Advantage Card expires, you can renew it for the same amount.
Every PHP 200 spent at SM Hypermarket and SM retail affiliates and partners (e.g., SM Supermarket, The SM Store, Watsons, Ace Hardware, Uniqlo, etc.) earns you 1 point. Keep collecting points by presenting your card to the cashier when paying for your purchases.
When you’ve accumulated at least 20 points, you can use them to redeem your rewards. Each point has an equivalent redemption value of PHP 1. So if you have 1,000 points on your card, you can opt to deduct PHP 1,000 from your total transaction at any SM Hypermarket store.
Aside from SM Advantage Card, SM Hypermarket also accepts BDO Rewards Card. The latter is issued for free to customers with BDO deposit accounts that have reached a certain balance threshold. BDO Rewards Card has the same earn rate and redemption rules as SM Advantage Card.
Loyal Puregold customers can avail of the Puregold Perks Card for PHP 100 that’s good for a two-year membership. The card earns 1 point per PHP 200 minimum purchase of any Home, Fresh, or Fashion items and 0.50 point per PHP 200 minimum purchase of other grocery items.
Each point is worth one peso, and if you’ve racked up at least 50 points, you can already use them to pay for your purchases at Puregold.
Puregold has a separate customer loyalty program for entrepreneurs. The Tindahan ni Aling Puring (TNAP) program enables sari-sari store operators and other small business owners to get more out of their bulk purchases at Puregold. TNAP members can earn 2 to 4 points (depending on membership level) for a minimum PHP 200 purchase of participating products and 1 point for a minimum PHP 200 purchase of non-participating items.
Puregold Perks Card has a lower membership fee of PHP 100 (versus SM Advantage Card’s PHP 200). However, taking the membership validity period into account, the SMAC is the more value-for-money choice. Even if it comes with double the fee of Puregold’s rewards card, SMAC is valid for a longer period. Your PHP 200 will last for four years with Puregold Perks Card, whereas you can enjoy a longer SMAC membership of five years for the same amount.
In terms of earn rate, SM Advantage Card also offers a better deal. It’s faster to accumulate points with SMAC than Puregold Perks. With SMAC, you can earn points from around 50 merchants in addition to SM Hypermarket. But with Puregold Perks Card, you can earn points only from purchases made at Puregold stores.
With SMAC, every PHP 200 spent on all product categories is worth 1 point. In contrast, not all items at Puregold earn 1 point per PHP 200 purchase, as products other than those in its Home, Fashion, and Fresh sections earn only half a point.
However, one advantage that Puregold has over SM Hypermarket is its rewards program for small business owners. SM doesn’t offer that kind of loyalty program for their SME customers.
In addition to affordable pricing, convenience is the true measure of a great grocery shopping experience. When you shop, you’d want to save not just money but also your time and effort.
Let’s check how SM Hypermarket and Puregold fare in making transactions hassle-free, as well as the ways they make shopping inconvenient for customers.
SM Hypermarket provides the one-stop shopping experience SM is known for. Before or after buying groceries, you can pay bills, send or receive remittances, or exchange foreign currency for Philippine Peso at the counters within the store premises.
Hungry? Grab a quick bite or buy take-home meals or snacks at the food stalls in SM Hypermarket. SM Markets’ delicious and filling yet affordable turon is a hit among shoppers who need a quick hunger fix to survive Petsa de Peligro.
Noche Buena shopping is also convenient at SM Hypermarket. On certain days during the holiday season, some stores open as early as 7 in the morning and close as late as 12 midnight. Select branches are open 24 hours on days leading to Christmas and New Year.
Read more: Ultimate Guide to Mall Hours December 2019
For those who are too busy to shop, SM Markets has an online service called Click & Collect. Customers can order groceries through the Click & Collect website (5) and visit the store to pay and pick up their items. There’s no SM Supermarket or SM Hypermarket delivery service yet.
As of this writing, the online ordering service is available at SM Hypermarket Mall of Asia, SM Supermarket MAAX, and SM Supermarket Makati.
Recently, SM got flak for banning the use of boxes for packing purchased groceries in its supermarkets. This new policy can be extremely inconvenient for customers who are buying a lot of heavy items and transporting them on a rainy day.
Since August 2019, only paper bags and eco bags have been allowed at the checkout counter. Requesting an extra paper bag to protect wet and/or heavy items will cost you PHP 3 apiece.
Puregold is the first and so far the only supermarket chain that allows cashless payment through GCash. Customers simply have to scan the barcode of grocery items as they shop using the Puregold Mobile App (6) and generate a barcode in the GCash app. This should then be presented to the cashier for payment upon checkout.
GCash users can also top up their mobile wallets by scanning a barcode at the payment counter in Puregold stores.
Other convenient Puregold services worth noting are the PurePadala eGift and eNegosyo packages that enable OFWs to send an eGift instead of cash to their family back home.
Recipients can use the eGift for buying any products or services at any Puregold store for their household consumption or sari-sari store business. The eNegosyo package includes assorted products from Puregold, a TNAP rewards card, and a retailer SIM card for cellphone loading business.
Because most Puregold customers own a sari-sari store and buy items in bulk, lines at the payment counters tend to get very long. Puregold used to offer an online grocery shopping and delivery service through a mobile app, but it’s already discontinued. This would have given customers the option to just do their grocery shopping at home and wait for their order to arrive instead of falling in line at the cashier.
What makes the checkout process at Puregold stores worse is that after paying for purchases, customers have to line up again at the exit area so that the guard can check their receipts and stamp them. Aside from being a waste of time, customers get offended because this practice makes them feel as though they’re being suspected of shoplifting.
So, where should you buy your groceries from? The best supermarket for you depends on your priorities.
If you want to save time and complete your shopping as quickly as possible, choose the store nearest your home. This choice also makes sense if you’ll buy a lot of perishable items such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products, which should be stored in your freezer ASAP.
Those who want to save money on groceries must compare prices of the nearest SM Hypermarket vs Puregold. For sari-sari store and mini-mart owners, Puregold is the logical choice for purchasing items in large quantities .
Have other things to do before and/or after grocery shopping? Visit an SM Hypermarket or Puregold store inside a shopping mall, so you can also pay bills, transact with the bank, visit the salon, watch a movie, or do anything you want in the mall.