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Tesco leads the supermarket fightback against the discounters

Roger Perowne CEO 24/04/2020

With a mission to ‘feed the nation’, supermarkets have stepped up during the country’s time of need, but Tesco’s compassionate and straightforward communications stand out

Over 43% of UK adults have heard something positive about Tesco over the last month

Tesco is currently Britain’s most talked about brand. Over 43% of UK adults (20+ million people) have heard something positive about Tesco over the last month, a massive increase from 26% at the start of the year. What’s more, the supermarket is number one in terms of positive buzz for the first time since the start of 2019.

The impressive shift in positive sentiment means that Tesco leapfrogs Aldi and Lidl into 1st place among the supermarket chains, having trailed the discounters at the start of the year. In our Top 100 Most Loved Retail Brands report published in January 2020 Aldi —as well as M&S Simply Food — placed above Tesco in the hearts of consumers.

Over the last six weeks, there’s no doubt that Tesco has played a key role in leading the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. While other supermarket chains have been central in the ‘feed the nation’ initiative, the response from Tesco appears to be resonating more widely among the masses.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Showing compassion

    • In early April Tesco set up a bespoke ‘NHS staff-only’ store at the new Nightingale hospital, providing staff with 24-hour access to food and household products
    • As a way of thanking staff for their effort and commitment during the COVID-19 outbreak, Tesco gave all its workers a bonus 10% wage rise backdated to the 10th of March

Being available

Following the introduction of the lockdown, supermarkets reduced their opening hours in an attempt to better cope with demand. While some closed at 8pm, Tesco’s stores stayed open for a further two hours, closing at 10pm instead

Having a nimble comms strategy

While some brands decided against advertising over Easter, Tesco redeployed its ‘Food Love Stories’ with a series of adverts embracing the idea of value, good food and keeping connected throughout isolation:

    • The ‘Food Love Stories’ ads were repurposed with an updated tagline of ‘now more than ever’
    • ‘Nan’s Long Distance Roast Lamb’ (from the Food Love Stories campaign) showed a family learning how to make their grandmother’s roast lamb via video call
    • Adverts ran featuring videos from customers making recipes and dedicating the dishes to friends / family they are unable to see in person

Supermarket heroes save the day

However, Tesco is not the only supermarket to experience an uplift in positive sentiment among the British public in recent months; it is very much a category trend.

According to BrandVue Retail data, the average positive buzz score for supermarkets as a whole has increased 7pts since the start of the year, from 22% to 29%.

Alongside Tesco, (+14 pts since the start of the year), Morrisons (+10%), Asda (+9%), Lidl (+8%), Sainsbury’s (+7%) and M&S Simply Food (6%) have all experienced significant increases.

These scores provide confirmation that supermarkets have risen to the challenge in supporting a nation during a pandemic, potentially building a closer connection with consumers as a result.

The challenge moving forward lies in maintaining this positive momentum in the coming months as restrictions are gradually lifted.

Get in touch to find out more about how BrandVue Retail can track your brand’s perception.

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