Waitrose ups content investment as it shifts focus to ‘accessible and free’ marketing

Waitrose is increasing its investment in content and shifting the balance of its spend away from paid towards “accessible and free to all” communications in response to what marketing director Rupert Thomas calls a “shift” in the role of marketing from selling to inspiring. 

Waitrose Weekend
Waitrose is increasing its investment in content, including in its weekly magazine Waitrose Weekend.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Thomas says rather than a “heavy sell”, the supermarket is looking to provide customers with inspiring content, whether about food or how they spend their leisure time, in the hope they will return to shop with Waitrose.

“The role of advertising is shifting. We want to help people make great choices around what they do and who they shop with. It is less about selling and talking to consumers about products or services they should be buying,” he says.

Waitrose is backing this up with a revamp of its Waitrose Weekend weekly newspaper, increasing the page numbers from 30 to 40 and announcing new writers including Mariella Frostrup, Sue Perkins and Rachel Johnson. 

The supermarket is also expanding its online TV service, adding more broadcasts to its schedule, including interviews hosted by Michael Parkinson and additional live programming.

Thomas says content plays a crucial role in consumer perceptions of Waitrose, enabling customers to feel warmer towards the brand. He says the supermarket is “very in tune” with what customers want, whether that be inspiring recipe content, producing entertaining articles or recommendations on local restaurants and sporting events. 

“People see us as a trusted source of information and a place to go for inspiration on everything, from how to cook to what to do with their families. What people buy into with us as a brand is an opportunity to engage with us across a broad spectrum. It’s about trust in the brand,” he says. 

Alongside the content push, Thomas says Waitrose’s marketing communications will continue to focus on value and its competitive pricing, particularly in the wake of price campaigns from rivals including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. 

He claims being competitive on price is a “very important part of the brand”, highlighting its price match guarantee with Tesco and its £1bn-sales Essentials range.

Thomas also credits the myWaitrose loyalty programme for Waitrose’s recent sales success, allowing the supermarket to tailor promotional activity to customers and give them “great offers” such as free tea and coffee.

“MyWaitrose is a very straightforward loyalty proposition. Consumers want to build up a strong relationship with a brand but they also want some form of instant gratification. Free coffee enables that. We can say thank you to customers in a way points never can,” he adds. 

Waitrose reported its most successful Christmas on record in 2013, with total like-for-like sales up 3.1 per cent in the five weeks to 24 December.

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 customerservices@marketingweek.com

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