Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Anti-Tesco Grievances Easy to Dismiss

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Anti-Tesco Grievances Easy to Dismiss

Article excerpt

Tesco is, by any estimation of brand equity, one of the UK's leading brands. But with greater size, scale and profitability comes increasingly vehement opposition. Criticisms of Tesco are like bellybuttons. Everyone has one, they are all slightly different, each is attached to a much greater internal agenda and, ultimately, every one of them is totally pointless.

Life is tough for Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's corporate affairs director.

Bound by various legislative and PR-enforced restrictions, she may be hamstrung in her abilities to respond to Tesco's detractors. If I were you, Lucy, here's how I would respond...

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is currently lobbying against Tesco on behalf of its members, independent retailers and small grocery chains. The ACS claims Tesco's growing presence in the convenience sector and application of 'predatory pricing' have been responsible for the closure of 2000 local stores in the past year alone.

Suggested Tesco response: it's called capitalism. When these local stores opened, they didn't give any thought to the local street traders that preceded them. If local stores had offered better products and service, and not ripped off customers for years with outrageous mark-ups, maybe they would still have some residual customer loyalty left.

The Women's Institute in Cornwall voted to ban all out-of-town supermarkets, including Tesco, to save the area's local shops and, according to Mary Farey, the retired grandmother who devised the ban, defend 'a fundamental part of British life'.

Suggested Tesco response: knickers. Perhaps retirees such as Ms Farey, with a nice pension and a lovely cottage in Cornwall, can afford the estimated 10% price premium independent stores charge over Tesco and other supermarket convenience stores. But unlike the demonstrably middle-class WI, the majority of British consumers are price-sensitive and would prefer to make their own shopping decisions.

The National Economics Foundation (NEF) cites Tesco as a key contributor to what it calls 'clone towns', where the individual character of a local high street has been replaced by a 'monochrome strip of global and national chains that means its retail heart could easily be mistaken for dozens of other bland town centres'. …

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