Supermarkets do much more

John Wood is right to point out in his letter (MW May 23) that price is fundamental to the proposition of most supermarket brands. However, he is wrong to suggest that this is all that consumers require from their shopping experience.

Leading supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco are not simply about price; they are also about value, quality and choice. And over and above this, they are committed to building long-term relationships with their customers, based upon understanding customer needs and interests.

Sales promotion is one way in which supermarkets and the manufacturer brands they stock can address important non-price needs. And while consistent pricing strategies are vital, as suggested by Alan Mitchell (MW May 16), lowest price is not the only factor in consumer buying decisions. This is why you will find – in store – such promotional schemes as Tesco Club Card and Computers for Schools, Sainsbury’s Reward Card, “Try before you buy” and Equipment for Schools. It is also why Safeway won a number of sales promotion awards this year for its “Safeway Viva Italia” promotion, described as a “mass market food-and-brand experience” and deploying a number of inand out-of-store promotional techniques.

None of this would take place if supermarkets did not know that it met customer needs. Sales promotion still has an important role to play, for both retailer and manufacturer brands, whether or not one cares to use terms such as “retailtainment”. If price were the only consideration, none of the above activities would be deployed and we would all shop at discounters.

Mark Beasley

Planning director

Perspective Red Cell

Old Isleworth

Middlesex

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