Sainsbury’s deserves brand of the year but must keep its foot on the gas

Sainsbury’s was named Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year 2013 at our Engage Awards earlier this week, but what is it that sets the supermarket apart from its rivals?


The shortlist for the award, which is determined using YouGov’s BrandIndex measurement tool and analysis by the panel of judges, also included British Airways, Samsung and Virgin Atlantic so Sainsbury’s was up against some heavy hitters.

Sainsbury’s approach to marketing and branding over the past few years has been impressive on a number of levels and the businesses performance has remained strong despite the economic challenges facing the sector.

The supermarket’s involvement in the Paralympic Games was lauded by the judges as a bold move and was one of the reasons the Paralympic Games enjoyed a higher profile and more public attention than in previous years.

Its market share growth has been consistently stronger than its rivals, according to Kantar Media’s supermarket share data and in the latest monthly figures it was the only one of the big four to increase its share. It now stands at 16.9 per cent, just behind Asda’s 17.5 per cent.

However, its rivals are watching and learning and so Sainsbury’s will have to do more to keep its brand positioning strong as the likes of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons step up their game.

With the Live Well for Less brand positioning introduced two years ago as the backbone of all its brand communications, Sainsbury’s has managed to achieve what CEO Justin King set out to do; to be all things to all people while maintaining a strong brand. The supermarket upheld its values and has been clear on what it stands for at the same time as offering both quality products and low prices to appeal to a broad range of customers.

Sainsbury’s has also benefited from the much publicised troubles of market leader Tesco, but now that Tesco is addressing underperforming areas of the business, relaunching its own brand ranges to improve quality and investing heavily in an overhaul of its brand communications, Sainsbury’s marketing team will need to work harder to keep ahead and make sure it doesn’t lose ground.

The Brand Match initiative has given shoppers reassurance they are not paying over the odds at Sainsbury’s helping to move away from the perception it is more expensive than its rivals. The launch of Tesco’s similar Price Promise scheme that pledges to compare prices of both brands and own-brand products, has ruffled feathers over at Sainsbury’s HQ and prompted claims that

Tesco’s price comparisons are misleading. But, instead of bristling over Tesco’s initiative, Sainsbury’s marketers must focus on making sure Brand Match continues to offer what customers want and remains relevant.

The ongoing partnership with loyalty programme Nectar has helped the supermarket leverage data strategically and initiatives such as its Scan & Go app, which integrates the loyalty scheme with mobile and real time data show how advanced Sainsbury’s mobile marketing is.

However, Asda appears to be following suit with its own scan and go shopping app which means if Sainsbury’s wants to keep hold of its crown it will need to get more distance between its initiatives and its rivals’.

Sainsbury’s is a worthy winner of the award, but for a brand in such a competitive sector the job is never done adn Sainsbury’s mustn’t take its foot off the gas.

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