Sainsbury’s shows time and again that it can out-think competitors

It pays to learn from the best and this issue has an engrossing read that should inspire marketers to think hard about strategy and developing their brand over the long term.

/k/y/p/branwell.jpg

In May, Sainsbury’s won the coveted Marketing Week Engage Award for Brand of the Year in association with YouGov. Throughout 2012, the retailer showed time and again in its marketing strategy that it could out-think its competitors and optimise the opportunities presented by bold decisions like the sponsorship of The Paralympic Games.

But resting on one’s laurels is not an option in the fiercely competitive market in which Sainsbury’s operates. For the essential read this issue (page 10) we had amazing access to senior members of the retailer’s marcomms team and a fantastic chance to lift the bonnet and see just what elements power the supermarket’s success – with 34 consecutive quarters of growth Sainsbury’s is getting more than the basics right.

Among the key insights from interviews with marketing director Sarah Warby and other team members a couple stand out. One is the focus on putting the customer first allied with campaigns that are devised to be “helpful” to said consumers. The other is the creation of a culture that allows marketing to be planned three years in advance.

That a listed company gives “permission” to be able to carry out long-range planning must be the envy of many marketers but it could not happen without a unique management approach. As head of brand communications Mark Given says “that means working closer together as a team” and having “a clear, consistent view of what the future looks like, based on customer understanding and what we need to deliver commercially.”

That balancing act between communications that help the retailer sell its target number of chickens week in week out, for example, and those brand-building ideas that lay foundations for longevity is difficult to pull off. 

Sainsbury’s does have plenty of challenges: it admits that it is late into the mobile world and is still finessing its online strategy. But at least it offers sound reasons why it is coming into some markets after its competitors.

However, it shouldn’t be complacent about those competitors. Tesco has spent this year feeling its way towards a new brand and marketing strategy while Asda has just appointed VCCP Blue as its new lead marketing agency. But the quiet confidence exuded by Sainsbury’s team suggests missteps will be few and far between and steady growth looks a safe bet. 

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

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

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

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 will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

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