How Sainsbury’s became ‘Signsbury’s’ to create a better environment for deaf shoppers

Staff at Sainsbury’s in Bath created the chain’s first signing store for the hard-of-hearing attracting worldwide media recognition.

Sainsbury’s can thank its employees for the idea behind ‘Signsbury’s’. Its Bath store colleagues wanted to create a more deaf-inclusive store for hard-of-hearing shoppers, as part of wider plans to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary with tangible demonstrations of its ‘Live Well For Less’ brand promise.

In addition to arranging British Sign Language (BSL) lessons for 100 retail staff, the branch installed helpful screens around the store and launched ‘Sign for a Snack’ activities to get children learning sign language too.

Changing the storefront sign to highlight the initiative over the course of a week gained international media coverage, with a digital extension letting millions of people learn BSL phrases far beyond Bath.

More than 300 publishers covered the activity, while audience surveys showed a 94% approval rating and 161,000 Sainsbury’s staff members learned useful signing phrases.

The positive impact of the campaign also led Sainsbury’s to win the prize of diversity and inclusion champion at the 2020 Marketing Week Masters.

According to the supermarket, the fact store staff created the idea – and worked on it with agency Gravity Road – was key to making an authentic and engaging campaign that could not otherwise have been achieved.

According to the judging panel, this was a “great activation with enduring change, with employees adopting and committing to sign language to improve the experience of deaf customers in-store”.

By focusing on creating a more welcoming environment for customers who are deaf, Sainsbury’s succeeded in getting its own brand values heard far and wide.