Magazine article Marketing


Magazine article Marketing


Article excerpt

The supermarket brand has adopted an 'honestly priced' strategy to stand out from the crowd.

Waitrose has stood apart from many of the ongoing price battles between the UK's biggest supermarkets. Instead, a savvy strategy has helped it gain market share and, in 2009, achieve the biggest growth in its 106- year history (during a recession, no less) and build on its already strong business credentials.

Waitrose's reputation is based on 'freshness, quality, choice and value', which translates into an upmarket image and attracts middle-class customers.

Where competitors push value, basics and savings, Waitrose's more expensive products are positioned as 'honestly priced', and its cheapest own-label range carries the Essential moniker, reinforcing the chain's focus on quality produce.

Just a year after the Essential range launched in 2009, it accounted for 17% of sales worth pounds 500m, and was labelled 'a formidable weapon in the supermarket's armoury', in establishing its ambitions to fight alongside the big four.

Since 2000, aggressive store expansion has also bulked out Waitrose's arsenal: it has acquired 11 stores from Somerfield, 19 of Morrisons' Safeway stores, four Woolworth sites and 13 stores from The Co-operative. In 2009, franchises were set up with Welcome Break service stations, and partnerships with Boots in the UK and Dubai-based retailer Spinneys, were established.

Along with a reputation for quality, Waitrose is loved for its customer service, largely due to its status as a partnership since it was acquired by John Lewis in 1937. As partners, rather than staff, employees receive a share of the profits. At every level of the business, partners have a vested interest in how well the company performs.

Regularly praised for its standards, it has won Best Supermarket in the Good Housekeeping Food Awards for the past seven years. It also topped the 2011 Which? supermarket satisfaction survey, its second consecutive win. Waitrose is rated the second-best shop in Britain by 'retail queen' Mary Portas' Secret Shopper project. Voted for by the public, it's the kind of praise of which competitors can only dream.

Brand lesson By Andy Knowles, chairman, JKR

Waitrose has long regarded design as a source of competitive advantage.

In contrast to the visual cacophony of cardboard signs and non-food merchandise at its brasher competitors, Waitrose customers enjoy light and airy stores with wide aisles, intelligent signage and courteous staff. …

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