August 11, 2005

What do we think of Fresh and Wild?

Good questions from Silverbrow on food: is Fresh and Wild just like Sainsbury's, but with higher prices?

On the one hand these stores are little more than supermarkets with the same profit imperatives as the mainstream retailers, on the other they have this slightly grating tendency towards right-on attitudes.

I would have assumed these two traits are mutually exclusive, the success of Whole Foods would imply otherwise. I would be interested to know just what suppliers think of them, whether they're really any better or worse than a Tesco or Sainsbury's. I also think it would be interesting for someone to look into the real level of choice they offer us. Are the products they stock significantly different from the "Best of" ranges so favoured by (UK) supermarkets? It's also interesting that the two markets where these Organic Supermarkets seem to succeed are the US and UK, both of which lack the European market tradition and have a heavy reliance on supermarkets.

PS Silverbrow has a nice list of links to food blogs, but a are US-based. Come on UK food bloggers, make yourself known and I will link to you from 173.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on August 11, 2005 at 03:04 PM in Food, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Drinking the Stormhoek at 173 Drury Lane

I haven't written anything on 173 Drury Lane for a couple of months. Ultimately, I think it was dying a slow death. The founders and I exchanged a few emails, but the fire had gone out. I asked friend and commenterJames Governor should we bother. His response was emphatic:

You should bother – it was just getting interesting. But you need to ensure it starts to exert pressure on Sainsbury’s which may mean a bit of trad PR.

It would be absurd to stop now. Look – blogging has gone mainstream in the US (Boeing and GM, to name two, with businessweek blog jumping in) – and you think this won't happen in the UK or something? Now is the time to position, not give up.

As he so often is, James is right. And if we need proof, we need not look far beyond the blogs of Steve Rubel, Neville Hobson and Hugh Macleod:

Steve Rubel says everyone is a marketer now.
50 million Americans visited blogs in Q1 2005. New Communications has a whole slew of stats about growth in blog publishing and consumption.

Where the US goes, the UK usually follows. Sainsbury's needs to know that. If we get our act in gear, 173 Drury Lane can have influence. Influence, by the way is another of Steve Rubel's hot issues: Don't measure blog readership, measure influence. Steve is not just talking citizen journalism either. He is talking about citizen marketing too.

Neville Hobson, quoting the FT, says Smart companies stimulate disruptive thinking.

Clark Gilbert, a professor at Harvard Business School, suggests the best innovations result from thinking about external forces:

"Intrapreneurial" ventures should be "opportunity-based rather than resource-based", he says, explaining that most large organisations try unsuccessfully to develop new ideas from their existing resources and competencies, rather than look outside for ideas. "The problem in so many existing markets is that product lines have already overshot what most consumers can absorb," he adds.

Can blogging be one of the external forces which encourages Sainsbury's to develop new ideas, beyond their existing resources and competencies? Hugh Macleod thinks so: he sent me a bottle of Stormhoek, because he sees Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption.

There is no point saying "blogging can change the world" while the world says "what the f*** is blogging?" James is right. Not only do we need to start posting again, and encouraging comments and new authors, we probably need traditional PR too. And while we are at it, we need to go and buy Stormhoek and tell Sainsbury's I am buying this, not because of some mixed message Jamie Oliver TV spot, but because Hugh Macleod told me to.

When he co-founded 173 Drury Lane, Max Blumberg wrote:

I am interested to learn the extent to which weblogs can be used to create thought-leadership and influence business behaviour.

I am interested in questions like:

  • Can a blog like this one really influence the path of a company like Sainsbury's and be of benefit to it?
  • What is our role as bloggers in this process?

I have decided to start posting again because like Max, like James, like Hugh and Steve and Neville, I want to know the answers to those questions, too.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on August 11, 2005 at 02:04 PM in About this site, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Price always comes third or fourth

As Sainsbury's contemplates its slogan change to put an emphasis back on cost cutting, it's refreshing (no pun intended) to read these comments made at the fruit and veg industry's Re:fresh conference:

Mark Newton, md of Florette UK, said: “There’s been a lot of talk from the trade about listening to what consumers want. What they don’t want is produce that’s been value engineered to within an inch of its life.

“Price always comes third or fourth on the list. People talk about freshness and taste. We’re in danger of forgetting that our product is food, and food should taste fantastic.”

Elaine Alexander, chief executive of South African Table Grape Industry, said: “As prices go down, the product becomes more and more devalued in the eyes of consumers.

“We have to use all our resources to try and turn this around. We demean our consumers by only believing they are interested in price.”

John smith of Greyfriars was also on the panel and noted the imbalance between the retailers who are looking at a 22% return and the growers who are struggling to keep up with the retailers' demands. Freshinfo really is a very good read.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 14, 2005 at 01:21 PM in Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sainsbury's discards its quality heritage at its peril

The Evening Standard had some interesting quotes on the Sainsbury's slogan change (emphasis mine):

Richard Hyman, chairman of retail consultancy Verdict, said: "Brands are like living organisms and Sainsbury's must be very sensitive to what they do. They must not just try to be Tesco - because Tesco is already doing that rather well."

Paul Smiddy, retail analyst at brokers Robert Baird, said: "They discard their quality heritage at their peril. The fact is, if they want to turn the business around they have got to win on food. Non-food is just the icing on the cake."

Well said, gents.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 14, 2005 at 12:55 PM in Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Making life taste better cheaper

Following on from Max's observations on Sainsbury's changing their slogan, The Independent has interesting coverage of Sainsbury's slogan history:

Industry observers have heaped ridicule on Sainsbury's for abandoning the slogan that served it so well during its glory years of the Eighties: "Good Food Costs Less".

Sainsbury's declined to comment yesterday about whether it planned to revive its old slogan. A spokeswoman did concede, however, that the company wanted the new motto to "reflect great quality food at fair prices" - or in other words, good food costs less.

The main problem is the confusion here between cost and class. Yes, "Making life taste better" is too close to "Fancy lifestyle for a better class of person than you," but the real problem is in the market's deep seated perception of the store. It doesn't matter what tweaking Sainsbury's does with its slogan, it will still be perceived as a middle class supermarket by Tesco shoppers. The Guardian did a great article on this a while back - I'm rich and I'm living well. Shopping here is part of that. Do you think a new slogan will change Stef's opinion of Sainsbury's?

At the other end of the scale, there is the very real danger that adopting a "Cheap food for chavs" slogan may well drive away the middle class shoppers on whom Sainsbury's depends - to Waitrose or organic box schemes and to farmers' markets.

It's good that Sainsbury's has spotted the problem and is working on it, but the long term solution has to be to sidestep the class issue and sell good food, to people who want it, regardless of their perceived standing in society.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 14, 2005 at 12:43 PM in Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 12, 2005

Retail really is detail

Just spotted this from this week’s Time’s. Hopefully just an overzealous local store manager:

POOR Justin King, the chief executive of J Sainsbury, has his work cut out. My local branch has just reopened after an extensive refit. It has changed the rules on free parking. Previously, you got an hour and a half, about right for a family shop.

Now, you get the first hour free, and then pay for any more. Do you try to dash around in an hour, and pray there are no tailbacks at the checkouts that would land you with a huge fine? Or pay the extra money just in case? When I was there on Saturday, there was a near-riot.

Justin, I know you have your problems. But trust me, asking loyal customers to pay for the privilege of shopping at Sainsbury’s isn’t the answer.

Thanks a million - Analysis - Times Online

Posted by Fred on May 12, 2005 at 11:50 AM in Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Sainsbury's doing the local thing for three years... who knew?

Having posted about Tesco and Asda's excellent work on the local new potato front and urged Sainsbury's to "keep up," I was chastened to read this article in Freshinfo:

Sainsbury’s is continuing its campaign to bring locally grown new potatoes into its stores in Cornwall.

Local farmers will be delivering fresh potatoes into selected stores within hours of them being harvested, the retailer claimed, keeping food miles to a minimum.

Potatoes will be available in the store for a limited period offering Sainsbury’s shoppers an opportunity to taste locally grown produce fresh from the field.

In many areas the harvesting of the potatoes is beginning at 5.00 in the morning with the potatoes being delivered to the store by 7.00.

Well done, Sainsbury's!

I am genuinely delighted about this scheme, so I am not being churlish when I ask this question: why is our favourite supermarket not making more of this story? From freshinfo (emphasis mine):

This is the third year that Sainsbury’s, Greenvale AP and Cornish growers have collaborated in this scheme in what is fast becoming a popular UK wide initiative.

This year 29 stores across the UK from Cornwall to Edinburgh will be taking part in the scheme, a large increase on the 13 stores in 2004.

John Maylam, senior produce buyer, said: “Sainsbury’s were the first major retailer to run a scheme of this nature across the UK."

Freddie and I spoke about this recently. Our conclusion: JS does some really great stuff, but it hides its light under a bushel.

Action points - one for Sainsbury's, the rest for you:

For Sainsbury's: look at all the really great stuff you do that goes unpublicised, then figure out how to tell those stories, rather than just giving us lowest common denominator, me-too, marketing bumpf.

For the rest of us: print this post or the freshinfo article, then take it into your local Sainsbury's and ask "is this store part of the Sainsbury's new potato scheme?" If it is, buy some of those new potatoes, eat them, perhaps with a little butter or in a nice salad, then tell all your friends how good they are. Let us know too, in the comments, or on your blog.

If you have a digital camera, feel free to send us pictures or post them on your own blog: of the potatoes, of the point of sale material or of any other advertising for the scheme. If Sainsbury's aren't going to publicise this properly, then we may as well pitch in.

And if your store is not included in the scheme, ask the manager to get his/her store included, quick smart.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 11, 2005 at 09:53 AM in Food, Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2005

New potatoes, locally grown

In light of comments here yesterday about market demand for local goods, a couple of recent stories about new potatoes, from fruit and veg industry site freshinfo, are eye openers.

Can you guess which of the supermarkets has a local branding initiative, including deliveries direct from grower to local store, plus point of sale material and promotional literature?

Mark Rowe is the first grower of the season to come on stream with more than 700 acres of tubers under production near Helston, Cornwall. He is making direct deliveries into the Helston store and the Chepstow RDC this week, which supplies the whole of south-west England.

And can you guess which of the supermarkets claimed victory in the race to get Pembrokeshire new potatoes into Welsh stores last week:

Karen Todd, local sourcing manager, said: "Our dedicated suppliers, Puffin, have done an excellent job in getting the crop ready and into store ahead of time.

“Local sourcing makes good business sense. Not only does it mean we can reduce the number of miles food has to travel before it reaches our stores, but it also enables customers to support produce from their local community.

We have seen dramatic uplifts in sales as more and more customers buy into local produce, which is also great news for farmers.”

Did you guess right? Give yourself a pat on the back if you answered Tesco and Asda.

It's one thing for Sainsbury's to be beaten on food by Waitrose; it's quite another to watch Tesco and Asda adopting local food. Neither of those stores would bother to stock local goods without compelling reasons. Both stores have learned that local produce is good for the farmers, it's good for the environment, the customers love it and sales increase.

Keep up, Sainsbury's.

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 8, 2005 at 07:21 PM in Food, Logistics, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

Ad industry surprised by Sainsbury's AMV decision

The Telegraph has a short article on Sainsbury's re-appointment of ad agency AMV:

Sainsbury's news that Abbott Mead Vickers has retained the supermarket's £47m account after a three-month long fight was greeted with some disbelief by the advertising community.

So not just me then?

Posted by Adrian Trenholm on May 3, 2005 at 07:58 AM in Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack