Never in history has the grocery industry been so cut throat, with companies forced to brand their own cost cutting campaigns to make themselves sound cheaper than the rivals. Gone are the days when some of the supermarket chains prided themselves on being a little more expensive, positioning themselves as a premium brand for the more refined customer. Today, the focus is very simple, price.
Sainsbury’s were one of the more high brow of the big supermarkets a couple of decades ago, certainly if you exclude the companies that have smaller market share. Today, their adverts focus heavily on Brand Match, their answer to the price war that shows no signs of ending. Put simply, they are trying to offer the well known brands for less than their rivals, conveniently ignoring the own brand and economy lines of their competition.
Asda is arguably the budget store, operating under the Walmart umbrella, so are most suited to the concept of aiming to cut prices. That’s certainly no unique selling point any more, however, so they’ve innovated and created a dedicated website to support their Price Guarantee scheme, which promises shoppers that their checkout bill will be 10% cheaper than elsewhere.
Tesco are the major player in the UK, and that grasp looked very strong until a couple of years ago. They’ve started to lose market share though, but not to the other big names. It’s been the real budget stores like Lidl and Aldi that have been quietly nibbling away at Tesco’s price concious target market, and now you frequently hear how it tough is for the big boy in the playground. Their effort to compete has come in the form of the Tesco Price Promise. The idea is that you find out instantly at the checkout if you could have shopped cheaper at another store, and if so, you get a voucher for the difference for your next shop. If you shop online, the offer still applies, but gets delivered electronically via email after you complete your online shop.
Morrisons, however, are the casualties for the price war, and things have been very tough for the chain. Since they moved nationwide, the recession of 2008 has meant they’ve been trying to expand just at the time that households want to spend less. Of course, there’s the adage that more millionaires get made in a recession than a boom, but when you’re a sprawling corporation, it’s hard to be agile and react to market changes when your margins are being squeezed, not to mention investing millions in new stores. They have, however, weathered the storm, and their Price Check which claims that quite simply their prices are always the lowest.
That’s the big four covered, and while there are some other big companies trying to muscle in, they make up the lions share of the food market in the UK. Let’s see where things go next!