Assessing the Asda Brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.

Brand ***

Credible and consistent Every Day Low Pricing has created a reliable value-based brand with a high functional rating. The brand also has a youthful aspect with its bright visual identity and young staff but this image is now a little tired and Asda has been slow to modernise compared to its competition. Efforts to entice a larger slice of the upper socio-economic profile with “Local” and “Organic” initiatives provide a more grown up and responsible image But it is not just organic and local that is needed – a passion for food that some of their major competitors communicate so well is missing on many fronts, such as POS, range innovation, customer relationships and store finishing. Extra Special is trying to spread the passion but to date its impact does not go much further than the words on the packet.

Experience ****

There is wide inconsistency of experience between stores that Asda’s chief executive Andy Bond is said to be trying to balance. Often an easy and convenient shop, typical stores also offer George (a big attraction), Asda Living and the food range. Moving around the store is generally easy with wide aisles but sightlines to the store signage are blocked by the shelving at eye level, thus hampering potentially good navigation with simple signage. Check-out areas are often free of any last minute purchase temptations. The café facility, where available, seems slightly lacking with the 360° visual fascia not properly considered as an integrated environment with the store.

Product ***

Fresh produce is well managed and appears to have reduced packaging, conveying a more natural greengrocer image. Convenience is the theme in the fresh food area but quality can be variable and the exotic is quite rare. The fish counter is well presented but quite prosaic in its range. The “Take Away” concept is a great modern meal solution idea and reflects general trends in family fast food shopping and capitalises on top up shopping trips. Ranges are complete in ticking all expected boxes but lack the innovation and excitement to engage shoppers on a personal meal solution and creative basis.

Value positioning ****

Value is clearly Asda’s core mantra and this positioning works well for the standard budget shop. Value is appreciated and sought at all quality levels and Asda is making slow headway into expanding their value leadership into a higher quality profile that will attract more upmarket consumers. George provides exceptionally good value office wear – such as a completely on-trend wool mix winter coat for £40.

Location ***

Asda already operates in a mix of urban and rural areas and has room to expand. Typically stronger in its northern heartland and having less prominence in the South West, Asda remains a national retailer that is in easy reach of many consumers. Asda’s challenge is to make its smaller stores work as well as some of the new mega-sized stores.

Recommendations

Encourage better relationships with customers, and ensure new magazine reaches uncaptured audience with creative meal/living solutions that improve the quality/value perception of Asda.

Create new food ranges delivered in innovative formats that are in tune with consumers more varied and esoteric tastes, and succeed in communicating a credible passion for food.

Make “local” a genuine presence in store.

Put some personality back into the stores, with better offers, POS and signage

Overall: ***

www.pragmauk.com

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