Guidance on unit pricing

This document gives principles and best practice guidelines for unit pricing displayed by written, printed or electronic means. It includes guidance on — the provision of unit price, — units of measure used to express unit price including: weight, length, volume, count, area and other forms of measure, — the display of unit price, and — implementation, communication and education of consumers. This document is applicable to any retailer, including supermarkets, hardware stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, automotive parts suppliers and pet product suppliers. It is applicable to packaged and non-packaged food and consumer products where the price is displayed, including — at point of sale, including in-store and online, and — when relevant communications about the product are released (including advertising by electronic and printed formats). This document excludes services and merchandise, such as clothing and electronic goods sold as a single item.

Préconisations concernant l'indication des prix à l'unité

General Information

Status
Published
Publication Date
18-Nov-2018
Current Stage
6060 - International Standard published
Start Date
19-Nov-2018
Completion Date
19-Nov-2018
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INTERNATIONAL ISO
STANDARD 21041
First edition
2018-11
Guidance on unit pricing
Préconisations concernant l'indication des prix à l'unité
Reference number
ISO 21041:2018(E)
ISO 2018
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ISO 21041:2018(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2018

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

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Published in Switzerland
ii © ISO 2018 – All rights reserved
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ISO 21041:2018(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................vi

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

4 Objective ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 2

5 Main principles ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.2 Provision ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.3 Units of measure .................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.4 Displaying unit price .......................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.5 Consistency ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 3

5.6 Planning, implementing and monitoring ......................................................................................................................... 3

5.7 Communication ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

5.8 Consumer education .......................................................................................................................................................................... 3

6 Provision of unit price .................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

6.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

6.2 Consistency of provision of unit price ................................................................................................................................ 4

6.3 Special offers ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 4

7 Units of measure ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

7.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

7.2 Consistency of measure ................................................................................................................................................................... 5

7.3 Measurement and calculation .................................................................................................................................................... 5

7.3.1 Accuracy .................................................................................................................................................................................. 5

7.3.2 Rounding ...................................................................... ........................................................................................................... 5

8 Displaying unit price ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 5

8.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 5

8.2 Location (proximity to selling price) ................................................................................................................................... 5

8.3 Font type ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6

8.4 Font size ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 6

8.5 Colour and contrast ............................................................................................................................................................................ 6

8.6 White space ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 6

8.7 Border(s) and box ................................................................................................................................................................................ 6

8.8 Expression of “unit price” .............................................................................................................................................................. 6

8.9 Obscuring ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6

8.10 Format ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 6

8.11 Symbols and abbreviations .......................................................................................................................................................... 6

8.12 Monetary denomination ................................................................................................................................................................. 7

8.13 Consistency of displaying unit price ..................................................................................................................................... 7

8.14 Non-ambiguity ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 7

9 Provision and display in-store ............................................................................................................................................................... 7

9.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7

9.2 Lower shelves in-store ..................................................................................................................................................................... 7

9.3 Viewing distance and angle.......................................................................................................................................................... 7

9.4 Surface reflection .................................................................................................................................................................................. 7

10 Provision and display online ................................................................................................................................................................... 7

11 Provision and display in advertising ............................................................................................................................................... 8

12 Establishing a new in-store or online unit pricing system ....................................................................................... 8

13 Consumer education ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

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ISO 21041:2018(E)

Annex A (informative) Examples of the potential benefits of unit price provision...........................................10

Annex B (informative) Guidance for depicting unit price information on labels ...............................................11

Annex C (informative) International system of units of measure and abbreviations ....................................14

Annex D (informative) Example of establishing a new in-store or online unit pricing system ............16

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................18

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ISO 21041:2018(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards

bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out

through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical

committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work.

ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of

electrotechnical standardization.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria needed for the

different types of ISO documents should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Details of

any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the Introduction and/or

on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/patents).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO’s adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) see www .iso

.org/iso/foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Project Committee ISO/PC 294, Guidance on unit pricing.

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards body. A

complete listing of these bodies can be found at www .iso .org/members .html.
© ISO 2018 – All rights reserved v
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ISO 21041:2018(E)
Introduction

Unit pricing is the display of the price of a product per standard unit of measure. For example, a 500 g

bag of rice offered at $2,00 would display a unit price of $4,00 per kg. A 2 kg bag of rice offered at

$7,00 would display a unit price of $3,50 per kg. It may be provided for packaged products (containing

constant or variable quantities) or non-packaged products. Unit pricing provides consumers with a base

price with which to compare like items of different sizes and brands. It can greatly reduce confusion

and help consumers make better informed choices, especially when there are a multitude of products,

brands and package sizes.

This document is intended to improve the accuracy and usability of unit pricing for consumers. It offers

retailers, policy makers and other stakeholders guidance for establishing best practice for providing

and displaying the unit price of products, including what unit prices are and how they are to be used, by

— defining unit pricing systems and the types of labels and promotions to which they may apply,

— assisting improvements to current unit pricing, and
— enhancing transparency of pricing information to consumers.

Consumers use unit pricing when it is made available. It is useful as a price comparison tool as a way

of identifying products that offer the best value for money. Sustained usage across time is supported

when there is periodic education or reminder communications.
There are other benefits for consumers, retailers and manufacturers.

— Providing consumers with better tools to compare prices is especially helpful where package sizes

change and retail prices remain the same. Consumers are also better able to consistently determine

actual price savings when “sale” items are effectively marked with unit pricing.

— Increased consumer satisfaction, improved pricing accuracy, increased sales of retailer branded

products and, depending on the jurisdiction, removal of the need to display the selling price on each

item of packaged product.

NOTE Retailer branded products refers to products marketed and sold under a retailer’s brand name or a

brand name not associated with any proprietary manufacturer, e.g. private label, house brand, retailer brand.

— One strategy governments have used to help consumers compare prices is to introduce standardized

container size regulations for selected common food and consumer products such as cosmetics and

processed food products. Unit pricing is a much less complex and onerous method for manufacturers

and retailers to implement; its introduction has led some jurisdictions to reject, reduce or eliminate

standard package size regulations as a policy solution.

This document was developed to provide guidance on best practices for retailers or governments

wishing to introduce voluntary or mandatory unit pricing systems and to help improve existing

voluntary or mandatory unit pricing systems to ensure that consumers are provided with information

that is easy to notice, read, understand and use.

The guidance provided here is intended to be adaptable depending on the size and level of maturity of

an organization’s management system and on the context, nature and complexity of the organization’s

activities, including its compliance policy and objectives.
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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO 21041:2018(E)
Guidance on unit pricing
1 Scope

This document gives principles and best practice guidelines for unit pricing displayed by written,

printed or electronic means.
It includes guidance on
— the provision of unit price,

— units of measure used to express unit price including: weight, length, volume, count, area and other

forms of measure,
— the display of unit price, and
— implementation, communication and education of consumers.

This document is applicable to any retailer, including supermarkets, hardware stores, pharmacies,

convenience stores, automotive parts suppliers and pet product suppliers.

It is applicable to packaged and non-packaged food and consumer products where the price is displayed,

including
— at point of sale, including in-store and online, and

— when relevant communications about the product are released (including advertising by electronic

and printed formats).

This document excludes services and merchandise, such as clothing and electronic goods sold as a

single item.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions
For the purposes of this document, the following terms and definitions apply.

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

— ISO Online browsing platform: available at https: //www .iso .org/obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at http: //www .electropedia .org/
3.1
constant measure package

products that are packaged items of a particular type containing the same quantity

EXAMPLE One litre packs of milk.
3.2
consumer

individual member of the general public purchasing food and products for private purposes

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ISO 21041:2018(E)
3.3
label
information attached or adjacent to the product
EXAMPLE Sign, sticker, stamp, tag.
3.4
non-packaged product

product that has not been packed prior to being offered for sale and where the price paid is dependent

on the quantity chosen
3.5
packaged product
product that has been packed prior to being offered for sale
3.6
organization

company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution, person or persons or part or

combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and

administration with responsibilities, authorities and relationships to achieve its objectives

Note 1 to entry: This definition includes retailers, manufacturers, sole-traders, partnership, charities, etc.

3.7
selling price

price per item or, in the case of non-packaged products (3.4), the price per unit of measure at which the

products are offered for sale

Note 1 to entry: In some countries, taxes are not included in the indicated price but are added at the time of

purchase.
3.8
special offer

offer of products that vary from the regular offer, including, but not limited to, bundles of like or

unlike products and sizes, temporary price reductions, free gifts or extra quantities, and offered and

perishable products close to their use-by date
3.9
unit price

price of a defined/specified unit of measure of a product, including weight (e.g. price per 100 g), volume

(e.g. price per 100 ml), length, area and number, and the unit of measure used
Note 1 to entry: Also known as comparison price and base price.
3.10
unit pricing
system used to provide the unit price (3.9) of a product per unit of measure
4 Objective

The objective of this document is to encourage and facilitate the effective provision by retailers of the

unit price of products and the effective use of this information by consumers to make informed decisions.

It is intended to improve the accessibility, accuracy and usability of unit pricing for consumers.

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ISO 21041:2018(E)
5 Main principles
5.1 General

Effective unit pricing is most likely to be achieved by applying several key principles to the design,

introduction and operation of unit pricing systems. These principles should be used whenever a relevant

product is offered for sale or advertised at a price, which is displayed by written, printed or electronic

means, and a suitable measurement is available to indicate the unit price.
5.2 Provision

The unit price should be provided whenever a relevant product is offered for sale or advertised at a

price, which is displayed by written, printed or electronic means, and a suitable measurement is

available to indicate the unit price.

The unit price should be provided in a manner to meet the needs of all consumers, including those with

special needs or vulnerable groups. For example, shelf labels that are angled or designed for greater

ease of reading.
5.3 Units of measure

The unit of measure used to indicate the unit price should be appropriate for the product and easy for

consumers to use. Whenever possible, only one unit of measure should be used for a product type.

5.4 Displaying unit price

The unit price should be displayed to ensure the greatest possible noticeability and legibility for all

potential consumers, including those with special needs or vulnerable groups. This can be achieved

by taking into account display characteristics, such as print density, font size, font type, colour and

contrast, and white space.
5.5 Consistency

There should be the highest possible level of consistency, within and between retailers and across all

retail formats, in the provision and display of unit pricing and in the units of measure used.

5.6 Planning, implementing and monitoring

Planning and implementing unit pricing should involve an adequate process of promotion, development,

monitoring, maintenance and improvement. An organization’s unit pricing system should operate in a

manner that aligns with the guidance included in this document.
5.7 Communication

Information about unit pricing should be communicated to all stakeholders (e.g. consumers, consumer

organizations, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, IT vendors, governments) via targeted

communication in the stakeholder’s language and with a strong focus on relevant benefits (see Annex A).

5.8 Consumer education

Consumer education should meet the needs of both experienced and inexperienced consumers

and include what unit pricing is, where it is provided, how to use it and potential benefits. It should be

ongoing with periodic reminder programmes.
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ISO 21041:2018(E)
6 Provision of unit price
6.1 General

The unit price should be provided wherever the selling price of a product is displayed in written,

printed electronic and digital forms, regardless of whether it is in-store, online or in advertisements.

This includes when

— products are in packages, including when the selling price is the same as the unit price,

— products are non-packaged, and
— products are on special offer.

The unit price should be calculated on the selling price of the total product(s) on offer. The calculation

includes any extra quantity of the same product offered for “free”.

When the selling price is displayed on a package, both the selling price and the unit price should be

displayed together.
6.2 Consistency of provision of unit price

The objective of this document is more likely to be achieved by the adoption of consistent provision of

unit price
— within a retailer,
— across retailers,
— across all retail formats (including in-store and online),
— between packaged products and non-packaged products, and
— across all forms of advertising .
6.3 Special offers

When designing and developing special offers, high priority should be given to the provision of unit

price prior to implementation.

For special offers, where the selling price is displayed, the unit price should be displayed in accordance

with Clause 8.

Special offers combining multiple items in one offer should provide the unit price for both the entire

multi-offer and per single unit, to allow direct comparison with other single items.

7 Units of measure
7.1 General

It is essential for both consumers and organizations that the correct and appropriate unit of measure

is established. The decision on which unit of measure to use should be made before the unit price

provision begins. The success of unit pricing relies on the following factors.

— An established measurement system. The relevant units of measurement for the jurisdiction should

be used to indicate the unit price.

— Using only one unit of measure for each product category or class of products (e.g. where a non-

packaged vegetable is sold at a price per kilogram, the packaged vegetable should be unit-priced per

kilogram).
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ISO 21041:2018(E)

— Using the most commonly used form of measurement for similar product categories (e.g. a unit of

weight or a count number). This measure should be well understood by consumers and appropriate

for the product category.

— Using only one commonly used unit of measure when a package is labelled with more than one unit

of measure (e.g. weight and count). For example, in some cases packaged tea bags declare count and

weight. If the commonly used unit of measure for tea bags is weight, then the unit price should be

displayed per unit of weight (e.g. 100 g).

— Using a unit pricing system whereby the denomination of the unit of measure should not result in

extremely small or large unit prices.
7.2 Consistency of measure

The units of measure used to unit price products should achieve the maximum possible consistency

between
— products and methods of sale,
— advertising methods,
— retailers and jurisdictions, and
— within individual retailers.
7.3 Measurement and calculation
7.3.1 Accuracy

The calculation of the unit price should be accurate and based on the currently displayed selling price.

7.3.2 Rounding

An organization should accurately and consistently use the same method of rounding of unit prices,

where applicable and in a way that does not mislead the consumer. Rounding should be in accordance

with the currency of the jurisdiction and consumer needs. An unnecessarily large number of decimal

places should be avoided (e.g. $1,27 per kg rather than $1,273 5 per kg).
8 Displaying unit price
8.1 General

How unit price information is displayed in-store, online and in advertisements has a major impact on

consumer use. Effective display enables consumers to easily notice, read and understand unit prices

(see Annex B). To achieve this, account should be taken of various factors, including those that relate to

consumers with special needs.
8.2 Location (proximity to selling price)

The display location of the unit price should be below or otherwise adjacent to the selling price. Where

possible, the unit price should be the information that is the closest to the selling price.

Advertising (including in catalogues, newspapers and online) should display the unit price of an item

adjacent to the selling price in accordance with this document. This helps consumers compare unit

prices across stores.
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ISO 21041:2018(E)
8.3 Font type

The font type selected for the unit price should be clear and easy to notice and read (e.g. bold).

Organizations should avoid using italics, underlining, and thin or compressed font types as these styles

make it harder to read the unit price.
8.4 Font size

The unit price should be displayed using the largest practical font size possible. When the selling price

font size is increased (e.g. on promotional labels), the size of the unit price font should be proportionately

increased.

The unit price font size intended for consumer use should be more prominent than information intended

for the retailer only (e.g. barcode, product position, supplier number, product code).

8.5 Colour and contrast
Black text on a white background is recommended for maximum contrast.

A coloured background can be used to enhance noticeability of unit price information, but should not

reduce legibility of the unit price. The use of c
...

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