Sainsbury’s starts the year with highest supermarket ad spend

Sainsbury’s has started the year with the highest ad spend of Britain’s biggest supermarkets as it increased its year-on-year spend by 11% to £4.6m.

Sainsbury’s January investment in price-conscious ads, which talked up its in-store price cuts and budget frozen foods, were enough to give it the lead for the four weeks ending 31 January, according to Nielsen.

The climb in ad spend could well be a reaction to a recent slump in sales. Despite a well publicised WW1-inspired Christmas campaign, Sainsbury’s Christmas sales fell for the first time in over a decade as like-for-like sales dipped 1.7% in the 14 weeks to January 3.

In the latest Nielsen figures, Lidl, meanwhile, upped ad spend by 138% to £2.4m – its annual investment growth only second to Marks & Spencer, who upped spend by 153% to £2.1 million.

Discount rival Aldi was the second biggest spender on TV and press advertising for the period, with a total spend of £4.5m.

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Aldi and Lidl now have a combined market share of 10.7%, according to Nielsen, with both growing sales significantly ahead of the supermarket average.

“The discounters’ rise in market share has been aided by investing heavily in advertising spend,” says Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.

“In the 12 week period, for example, Aldi spent the most on advertising in relation to its market share. Lidl is third in this regard behind M&S.”

Morrisons was the only major supermarket not up its ad spend for the period. The struggling big-four supermarket saw spend fall 66% YOY to £1.1m.

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