Tesco, Sainsbury’s latest ads fail to resonate

Sainsbury’s and Tesco have both launched major marketing pushes to highlight the provenance of their products in recent weeks, but YouGov data shows neither campaign has had a marked impact on consumers’ perception of either supermarket’s “quality”, although Sainsbury’s value message appears to be resonating above its fierce rival.

Sainsbury’s latest Brand Match campaign.

Tesco’s effort to improve the perception of the quality of its food offering launched on 21 July. Mutli-channel ads, highlight the provenance of its fresh produce – from steaks to strawberries – and encourage consumers to “celebrate everyday food”.

While Tesco’s “Quality” measure on YouGov’s brand Index did appear to improve slightly (see charts below) in the week after the campaign launched – up from 15.6 ahead of the launch to 18.7 on 28 July – it has now fallen down to below the pre-campaign levels earlier in the month.

Sainsbury’s Quality score has long been above Tesco’s on the BrandIndex database, but its latest campaign, which launched on 31 July and attacks its rival’s “Price Promise” initiative (see picture above) has yet to tip the balance further in its favour. The ads claim Sainsbury’s Brand Match makes fairer and clearer price comparisons than Tesco and that Sainsbury’s products on the deal offer better value than its rival. 

In fact, Sainsbury’s most recent Quality score (45.5 on 7 August) is now actually lower than the recent peak it achieved during the height of Tesco’s “Love Every Mouthful” campaign (49.8 on 26 July).

An area where a victor may be apparent between the two fierce rivals is value for money.

In terms of Value, an element the Sainsbury’s ads major on, both supermarkets have plotted similar fluctuations in Value score in the 18-day period since Tesco’s campaign first launched. In the last week, however, Sainsbury’s Value score has moved from 20.4 to 26.3 – a statistically significant increase, according to YouGov. While Tesco’s Value score also rose in the period, the increase was not as stark.

Sainsbury’s Buzz score – a measure of the positive and negative things people have said about a brand – has steadily increased from 12.1 on 30 July to 15.2 on 7 August. On the other hand, Tesco’s Buzz has incrementally declined in from -1.6 at the start the period, down to a score of -6.1 at its lowest and its most recent score of -3.4.

The role reversals in Buzz could indicate Sainsbury’s value-based ad push and PR efforts around the “transparency” of its Brand Match initiative versus Tesco – including its plans to take legal action to reverse the ASA’s rejection of its complaint about a Tesco Price Promise ad – are having a positive effect on its brand. That said, many other more anecdotal factors – such as personal experiences at local stores – may have also had a part to play in this short time.

The statistics in this article were compiled by tracking both brands YouGov’s BrandIndex from 1 July to 8 August, using a one-week moving average of data.


YouGov Quality Tesco Sainsbury


YouGov Value Tesco Sainsbury


YouGov Buzz Tesco Sainsbury


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