The “Big Four” supermarkets already cater to the customer spectrum


The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel show an ever widening divide between well heeled shoppers and those struggling to make ends meet, but that doesn’t mean that the Big Four are slipping behind.

In what is becoming a continuing pattern, discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl posted the highest growth in the sector – each in double digits. Waitrose followed with the next highest growth (9%) in the three months to 10 July.

Meanwhile the Big Four – Tesco Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, all report much slimmer growth.

Kantar describes this polarisation as “a theme of two nations” demonstrating the growing gap between shoppers at each end of the spectrum.

This dovetails with the exclusive research into consumer behaviours Marketing Week revealed in the recent feature “Putting some balance back into the market”.

In it, my colleague Lou Cooper wrote about the permanent shift in shopping habits which is skewing the market to either low-cost or premium brands.

The research, carried out for Marketing Week by Leapfrog Research and Planning, described how consumers are seeking out “true value” rather than just price by buying discount brands as well as higher end brands.

The behaviour is described as “spectrum shopping” and it’s squeezing the mid-market brands in all sectors – not just retailers.

It explains why the Big Four supermarkets are trailing their discount and upmarket rivals Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose in terms of growth, and it shows no signs of letting up.

Despite registering slower growth than their discount and premium counterparts, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, and Tesco have already demonstrated that they can appeal to consumers at all levels of the price and value spectrum.

The polarisation described by Kantar’s figures is going on within the microcosm of these supermarkets and within the ranges they offer.

Tesco, for example, has reported the strong growth of both its basics and premium label lines, for several months.

So, the Kantar figures, while pointing to slower growth at the UK’s four largest – and mid-market – grocers needn’t be seen as a failure by them to keep up with the shift in consumer behaviours to the ends of the spectrum.

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