Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Tesco

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Tesco

Article excerpt

The UK's biggest supermarket is showing signs that its grip may be loosening, writes Ed Kemp.

Tesco is ubiquitous in British family life - whether it is selling you its food, financial services, mobile networks, broadband, or furniture, or providing computers and sports equipment for children's schools. But is the UK's biggest retailer catching the cold that appears to be spreading in the economic climate?

Tesco has been furiously price-cutting against rivals such as Asda and Sainsbury's, and with the addition of 350 products to its Value and own-label ranges, it has reinvented itself as 'Britain's biggest discounter'. Yet with so many claims, it takes a savvy consumer to work out which of the quarrelling multiples offers better value.

Not everyone is convinced by Tesco's repositioning. Last month, Colin Mechan of design agency FLB told Marketing: 'People don't understand where the discount brands fit with Tesco's other ranges.'

Although a spokeswomen denied that the ranges were performing poorly, it is indisputable that multiples traditionally associated with value, such as Aldi and Netto, have stolen a march on Tesco, while its mainstream peers Sainsbury's and Asda have held onto or even grown their market share.

So is there anything in this slight slide in Tesco's share that is indicative of problems to come? We asked George Prest, creative director at Lowe London, who has previously worked on the Tesco business, and Christian Cull, customer communications director at BSkyB and a former marketing director at Waitrose, for their views.

DIAGNOSIS

Two industry experts advise Tesco on how to regain its brand value

- GEORGE PREST CREATIVE DIRECTOR, LOWE LONDON

Tesco. It's part of the furniture, isn't it? It can't be doing badly - it's an untouchable brand, a golden goose, a given, an icon, a veritable bell of the weather. Like M&S, BA and the BBC.

And there it is. Tesco can be doing badly. No brand is untouchable Givens can be taken away. Icons can fade. And the golden goose will lay a turd if it's not fed and watered properly.

I've always thought that value alone is a delicate positioning for a supermarket. Value plus something else, yes, but just value is a tightrope to walk.

It's fine if you're an unashamed Asda or a pants-down Lidl. But if you're Tesco, with aspirations to the aristocracy, it's a tough spot to be. 'Every little helps' is a truly great line, but there's no flex in it - at least, not in the way that Tesco sets out its stall at the moment.

Value gets boring after a while, but consider such messages as value plus fresh (Morrisons), value plus quality (Waitrose), and value plus discovery (Sainsbury's). …

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