Sainsbury’s renovation wins it brand of the year

Belated congratulations to Sainbury's for winning the Marketing Society Brand of the Year award. The prize was just reward for the company's strong and consistent performance, with 35 consecutive quarters of growth. This success is not due to any incredible, breakthrough innovation. Rather than trying to "think outside the box", I suggest what Saisnbury's have done well is "made the box bigger", by renovating their core business.

1. Remember and refresh what made you famous

Sainsbury's have focused on and amplified their strengths in food, with a massive revamp of 1000's of own label products under the By Sainsbury's range. Some of this has been product improvement. The design of this core own label range has also been upgraded and made more coherent across the range. 

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2. Neutralize your weaknesses

Sainsbury's weakness was on price perception. It has a history of being seen a bit "posh" and more expensive than other supermarkets. In reality, the prices are a bit more expensive, but not as much as people think.

The brand's new brand idea, Live Well for Less, aimed to address this price issue by suggesting that you could live well and buy nice products, for less than you think. It tapped in really well to the recession-hit shoppers' need: to watch the budget without having to compromise too much on quality.

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The idea has been communicated in advertising. But what is more impressive is the Brand Match initiative, that I posted on here. This uses whizzy technology to instantly calculate the cost of the brands bought compared to Tesco and Asda. If these items are a bit more expensive than the competitive stores, hey presto, it gives you a coupon to use on your next shop to cover the difference. 

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What's clever about Brand Match is that Sainsbury's is not trying to be the cheapest on everything, which would be costly and potentially under-mine the brand's quality image. Rather, its just trying to get a "point of parity" by not being more expensive on branded products, which are the same in every supermarket.

3. Drive distribution

In additon to creating distinctive products, activation and communication, Sainsbury's has also driven distrubution to grow its core business , in 3 ways:

 Opening new supermarkets (6 in first half 2013)

– Convenience stores (50 in first half 2013)

– Online sales: growing 15% a year, worth £1billion in sales 

In contrast, Morrisons supermarkets have suffered declining sales by being slow at opening convenience stores, and lacking an online offer until recently.

4. Nice guys can come first

A final point, which is much softer, is that Sainsbury's do seem like a decent company, out to try and do the right thing. Having worked with them on several projects, this is the personal impression I got. The company has a strong set of values, inlcuding "best for food and health" and sourcing with integrity". Its no surprize that Sainbury's was one of the only supermarkets not to be tainted by last year's horsemeat scandal. And the brand is leading with their values as a way of promoting their Basics line.

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In conclusion, Sainsbury's is a brilliant example of the benefits of renovating your core business.