Brand audit: Tesco

Tesco may have just reported its first annual profit fall for two decades but it does appear CEO Philip Clarke is right when he says the brand’s efforts to overhaul its advertising and marketing are already having a positive impact.


Perception of the brand is slowly improving, according to YouGov BrandIndex tracking measures, following a gradual decline in recent years and the impact of the horsemeat scandal.

Following the issuing of its first profit warning in January 2012 Tesco’s brand perception fell dramatically across all measures, according to BrandIndex particularly Buzz which registers the balance of positive and negative things the public has heard about a brand.

To address the negative perception and falling sales, CEO Philip Clarke set out a series of improvements across six main area of the business including store formats, improving the quality of its products and services and overhauling marketing and branding.

Elsewhere, Wieden + Kennedy replaced Red Brick Road as Tesco’s creative agency in May and was tasked with generating love for the Tesco brand.

Tesco’s Buzz, index and Impression scores all improved markedly between May 2012, when W+K was appointed, and January 2013.

Buzz gained 11 points reaching 0.2 on 14 January from -10.9 in mid-May the year before. Its Reputation score increased 4.5 points to 7.6 in January, from 3.1 in May, while Impression scores rose by 7 reaching 17.6 in January, up from 9.5 in mid-May.

The positive gains made in the 12 months after setting out the overhaul were all but wiped out in January when Tesco was the first retailer to reveal traces of horsemeat had been found in a number of processed beef products.

Its Index score fell from 19.5 to a low of 9.5 in mid-March, while Buzz plummeted to a two-year low of -43.8 registered on 6 March in the wake of horsegate.

Tesco has scored consistently below its rivals in terms of Buzz, Impression and Recommendation scores in the last 12 months and was by the far worse affected by the horsemeat scandal than its rivals. It is, however, starting to recover.

The horsemeat scandal saw Tesco focus its communications efforts on being transparent about the issue in an attempt to limit the damage.

YouGov’s BrandIndex shows Tesco’s Buzz score has improved greatly in the last month rising to -7.1, (18 April) indicating the supermarket’s efforts to communicate its position over horsemeat has had some success.

However, Tesco’s Buzz scores have been predominantly below 0 since January 2012 and while it is gradually improving there is a way to go before it regains the largely positive Buzz ratings it historically achieved.

The supermarket’s Index score, which aggregates all six measures YouGov polls such as Impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and wether they would recommend it, remains below its pre-horsegate score but is gradually improving. It reached its lowest Index score of 9.1 on 6 March but had climbed to 13.4 on 19 April.

Clarke said last week at the supermarket’s full year results that the brand advertising being rolled out from Wieden + Kennedy is already “putting a warmer and more engaging face” on the brand. Tesco’s Christmas advertising, the first major TV activity launched with the new agency, helped buoy the brand’s scores across all BrandIndex measures.

The gradual improvement to Tesco’s BrandIndex scores shows it is slowly moving in the right direction and the steps it is taking to be open and clear over the horsemeat scandal as well as rebuild its personality through advertising are having a positive impact.

Tesco’s Brand Index

Tesco index

Tesco’s Buzz

Tesco Buzz

Tesco’s Impression

Tesco impression


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