Less is more

The figures on how much each retailer in the grocery sector has spent on advertising in the run up to Christmas were revealed this week and made for interesting reading.

Christmas advertising is always a big deal for the supermarkets, and this year has seen Waitrose, The Co-operative and the discounters drawn into the fight alongside the big four.

Every tactic has had an outing with television ad campaigns starring celebrities, heavy handed price cutting, loyalty incentives and rewards, coupons and vouchers, as each grocery retailer vies for the attention of festive shoppers.

In the data from media monitor firm Billett, Morrisons was the only supermarket to reduce its ad spend in the four weeks to 25 November.

Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all invested more in ads during November, Tesco’s spend is up 29%, Sainsbury’s is up 17% and Asda’s is up 8% while Morrisons spent 2% less than last year.

Morrisons is spending less on its advertising but when you look at the latest grocery market share figures from TNS, Morrisons is increasing its market share faster than any of its rivals, and outperforming the market average.

Perhaps Morrisons is spending less but spending it more wisely?

Its Christmas campaign sees celebrities Richard Hammond and Denise van Outen wax lyrical about the availability of fresh food at Morrisons in the midst of a traditional festive scene.

By focussing on its credentials for fresh food, Morrisons is building its reputation and its brand rather than focussing on short-term price cuts.

Michael Bates, Morrisons marketing director says this year the supermarket has been more targeted in its advertising, and more cost conscious in every area of the business to get the maximum return on investment.

He added that: “Results are the most important factor to consider, it’s not how much you spend, but how you spend it that matters.”

Compare this to Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket.

Tesco ploughed an extra £2m into advertising in those four weeks compared to what it spend in the same period last year, spending £9.2m in total – more than any of its rivals.

Tesco has not been backward in coming forward to win over new customers and maintain existing ones with ruthless price cutting drives and loyalty rewards.

It has cut the price of 200 of its Tesco Finest products by up to 50% and sent its Clubcard members £67m worth of customer loyalty rewards three months early to ease the financial expenditure in December.

Yet, the latest market share figures from TNS show Tesco’s market share has remained flat.

It remains to be seen who will ‘win’ this Christmas but I think every retail business could learn something from Morrisons ‘less is more’ approach.

With that, I wish you the very best for the festive season and the New Year.

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