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May 14, 2005

Sainsbury: Changing Position?

Sainsbury is dropping the sloganMaking life taste better” created for it by M&C Saatchi in 1997. There are a number of possible reasons for this move. First, “making life taste better” smacks of quality and therefore high prices. Compare it, for example, to the price conscious “Asda price” or Tesco’s “Every little helps”.

Yet, I remain unconvinced that Sainsbury should choose to compete with its giant competitors on price. A general rule in business strategy is that only the largest players can afford price wars. The company is no longer large compared to Asda/Walmart and Tesco who if they chose to could sustain a price war much longer than Sainsbury.

Of course the emphasis on price may simply be a ploy to prepare the company for possible take-over bids from low-cost players like Asda? Perhaps new chief financial officer Darren Shapland was brought in to prepare the group for possible acquisition?

Another possible reason for changing “making life taste better” is that it emphasises food sales whereas the modern trend for supermarkets is to broaden into general retail (“More reasons to shop at Morrisons”). However, signing up Chef Jamie Oliver for another year of advertising last month is not going to help any non-food positioning on the other hand.

In summary, top marks to Sainsbury for having the courage to change its brand image. Only knowledge of the company’s real goals will tell whether the move will deliver the desired results.

Posted by Max Blumberg on May 14, 2005 at 10:14 AM in Marketing | Permalink


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Max: Good post. I think the point about not living in the past and accepting you're not the biggest player is pertinent. I think your reading of the meaning of the change in the tagline makes good sense.

And yes, flexibility is a good thing. I would say that Sainsbury's are changing their slogan. How their brand image will change though is not theirs to control any more in our highly connected, highly opinionated world.

To influence that image - well they need to have less faith in any slogan and more willingness to engage their customers.

Posted by: Johnnie Moore | May 16, 2005 10:17:53 AM

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