Recent studies from Milward Brown and Kantar have revealed the consumer responses and sales performances to the various Christmas advertising campaigns from the multiple grocers, which is highlighting that the big four are still not understanding the issues within their category.
The conclusion of the Milward Brown study found that Lidl was leading the way in the number of consumers who are most likely buy from them, second was Marks & Spencer. Most of the other retailers have failed to shift purchasing intent. In terms of engagement and enjoyment, Sainsbury’s scored highly.
Hot on the heels of the Milward Brown study has been the Kantar World Panel which has revealed sales so far in the run up to Christmas. It has reported that the major discount multiple grocers continue to disrupt the category with sales up by 22.3% at Aldi and 18.3% Lidl, providing a record combined market share of 8.6%. Sales within the big four are still highlighting a worrying trend with Tesco sales down by 2.7%, Asda’s sales dipped by 1%, Morrison’s fell 3.2%, while Sainsbury’s sales dropped by 1.8%.
Waitrose are performing well with YOY sales up 6% which leads us to the conclusion that the nation is primarily concerned about quality and/or cost. Once these are compromised we’ll look elsewhere, so these figures paint a picture that the big four either still don’t understand what is happening within their category or are unable to react effectively, particularly during this key trading period.
Lidl’s advertising is simple, invite a group of people to test out a Christmas dinner. Given the quality they are convinced that they are eating food from Waitrose or M&S, however the big reveal is that they are being fed food from the discounter. Cue the consumer surprise and delight as they announce where they will be doing their Christmas shopping. The message is very simple; surprisingly good quality food at low prices.
Compare this to Sainsbury’s. I have genuinely enjoyed their Christmas advertising this year, the World War One Christmas day story was relevant, engaging and respectfully treated, however they have failed to understand the real category issues. What has this really told us? Has it changed our purchasing behaviour? How has it change our declining perception of the big four? The answer to all three questions is, ‘not a lot’. The only element within the advertising linking to their offering is the ability to purchase the featured chocolate bar. Whilst this is a sound example of campaign integration it reveals very little else and fails to challenge our preconceptions. My only take out from the advertising is ‘Christmas is a time for peace and goodwill to all men’; I’m not sure this a totally original message!
So as a result of these campaigns and subsequent research I have drawn two conclusions;
First, the ‘big four’ still haven’t understood why their category is transforming so rapidly. Consumers are now interested in buying the highest quality food at the lowest prices. They are less bothered about whether they are engaged with the retailer’s brand.
Secondly, many of the big TV Christmas marketing strategies have become vanity projects for the brand teams/advertising agencies. Whilst these films are beautifully shot they fail to address the real issues.
So in conclusion, whilst we enjoy being entertained through our brands, this is not enough at a time when we are increasingly conscious about buying quality at a competitive prices. Above all, the quality and cost of the Christmas day lunch I will hosting for 13 people is by far my priority, the big 4 would do well to remember that.