Sainsbury’s Christmas ads most effective

Sainsbury’s outperformed rivals Tesco, Morrisons and Asda during the Christmas period despite spending the least on its festive advertising, according to Nielsen figures.


The supermarket posted a 10.1% rise in sales in the four weeks to December 25 while Tesco and Morrisons grew in line with the market at 6.9%.

Asda’s performance in December was slightly under the market average at 5.8%.

Supermarket sales grew 6.9% overall in December, compared to the previous year, but the market research firm says the pre-Christmas snow disrupted shopping and led to a 16% sales rise in the final week before Christmas.

Sainsbury’s also outperformed its Big Four rivals in the 12 weeks to Christmas with 8% growth compared to Tesco at 5.5%, Morrisons at 3.3% and Asda at 4.4%.

Asda spent more than its rivals during the three month period, spending more than £40m, compared to Sainsbury’s £25m. See below for a list of supermarket ad spend.

Sainsbury’s Christmas advertising featured celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Tesco’s festive campaign featured Amanda Holden alongside its regular Tesco characters, while Morrisons focused on its fresh produce message and its Christmas loyalty promotion. Asda’s Christmas ad spend was a move away from its traditional price advertising focussing on its premium Extra Special range.

Mike Watkins, senior manager of retailer services at Nielsen says: “It is interesting and impressive to see such strong growths from Sainsbury’s. Initial Nielsen advertising spend data shows that the retailer spent less than its rivals on messaging in the run up to Christmas but it was clearly effective.”

“The retailer’s expansion programme that has created additional in store space, much given over to non-food merchandise, would have certainly contributed to this success in addition to the retailer’s long standing reputation in fresh food and private label quality.”

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are all due to report trading updates next week.

Retailer Ad Spend Oct – Dec 2010, £millions

Asda – 40.5
Tesco – 38.3
Morrisons – 26.8
Sainsbury’s – 24.8
Marks & Spencer – 23.4
Waitrose – 8.6
Cooperative Food – 7.7
Iceland – 7.3
Lidl – 6.6
Aldi – 5.4

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here