Is Asda’s big gambit just a stunt?

Asda’s latest strategy to lure shoppers back through its doors with an “Asda Price Guarantee” has met with derision and labelled as a “stunt” by its rivals.

Asda campaign
Asda campaign

The supermarket says it will guarantee that the cost of an Asda shopper’s basket will be lower than that of the same basket at its leading competitors. If it’s not, Asda will repay the difference.

Customers must go online to check their receipt against rival supermarkets before claiming the difference.

Morrisons group trading director Martyn Jones, says: “Rather than relying on stunts to attract shoppers, we give customers all round great value with exciting, deep-cut offers which benefit more shoppers, more often.’

He added that he didn’t believe it was possible to fully price match against Morrrisons’ prices as they are not published online.

He says: “We would also question the ability to be accurate about an on-line price-matching claim or to try to match the quality, value and service that we provide.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson says: “Our customers shop with us for great products at fair prices. People lead very busy lives and not everyone has constant access to the internet, so we check prices constantly and reductions are made in our stores so that all our customers can benefit equally from our competitive pricing when they shop with us.”

Alan Treadgold, head of retail strategy at advertising agency Leo Burnett, says that Sainsbury’s is implying that Asda’s Price Guarantee is inconvenient for customers, as they have to go online after they shop to check the prices and means that customers who don’t make the effort to do so miss out of savings.

Asda claims that it is making “the final shot in the supermarket price wars” but retail experts aren’t convinced.

Treadgold adds: “I don’t think this is the end of the price war. I think it’s another shot in that war. I don’t think this will be a particularly effective shot either. It’s not especially convenient for shoppers and you can’t always compare apples with apples – sometimes quite literally!

Asda’s move should be seen as a part of the strategy Andy Bond, Asda’s departing CEO, revealed in February that the chain would return to its “Every Day Low Prices” proposition in 2010 after being “too promotional” throughout 2009.

At the time Bond slamm Asda’s rivals fed or their high-low price models saying “they are guilty of employing weapons of mass distraction when it comes to pricing. We will no longer get drawn into playing this game”.

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel last week revealed that Asda was continuing to struggle. Its market share dipped and it lagged well behind the sector with 2.5% growth.

A TV campaign to support the Price Guarantee initiative has been developed by Saatchi & Saatchi. It features an Asda customer picking up their shopping basket in slow motion as the voiceover announces the Price Guarantee and that shopping is changing for good.

Asda doesn’t anticipate the initiative will cost the chain a great deal as it is confident that on the “vast majority of products, we are cheaper.”

The Asda Price Guarantee launched at 7am on 28 April, and by 10am Asda had already seen hundreds of customers log on to check their receipts and check the prices.

An Asda spokesperson admitted it was more people than they had thought would log on in the first morning, but that the supermarket is keen to encourage its customers to go online and do it.

Asda has also increased its customer service support by 100% in anticipation of increased demand from customers using the new service.

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