Sainsbury's marketing strategy

Written by dan ketchum
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London, England-based grocery chain Sainsbury's traces its history all the way back to 1869. What began as a local grocer grew into a countrywide chain of "hypermarkets" that sell food, appliances, furniture, electronics, toys and sporting goods alongside services such as insurance, loans and savings accounts. After a slight slippage in the mid-late 1990s, Sainsbury's found new commercial stability in the mid-2000s. The company owes much of this financial rebound to its encompassing marketing strategy.

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Sainsbury's divides its customer and marketing department into three main components. A marketing team focuses on improving brand awareness across numerous channels and outlets via, according to Sainsbury's website, "a combination of creativity and commercial flair." The company's media and communications team maintains Sainsbury's positive image across newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet and internal communications while the customer team focuses on improving the aftersales experience of Sainsbury's customers.

Marketing Pillars

In 2010, Sainsbury's marketing director Gwyn Burr said that clear brand communications serve as a central pillar in the company's marketing strategy. Burr claims that clear brand communication led to a 17 per cent increase in profit in 2009, attracting 1 million new customers that same year. As a continuation of the "Making Sainsbury's great again" campaign established by CEO Justin King in 2005, Burr says that "the aim of Sainsbury's marketing since the start of the [countrywide economic] downturn was to ensure that shoppers could change the way they shopped, not where they shopped." Some of the company's integrated marketing learning points include tailoring the in-store experience to each customer, creating an environment that stresses customer care and companywide cooperation across marketing teams, according to professors Angus Jenkinson and Branko Sain of the Luton Business School.

Initiatives and Promotions

Sainsbury's marketing strategy accents its philosophical pillars with customer initiatives. The retailer's "coupons at till" program serves as its biggest draw, allowing customers to cash in money-saving vouchers toward regularly purchased items. As of 2010, 100 brand owners had signed on to the program, which Sainsbury's claims promotes a mutual loyalty between company and customer by targeting customers with tailored offers. The company's promotions include sponsorship of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and the "Active Kids" program, which allows schools and community organisations to exchange vouchers toward sports equipment and initiatives. In the late 1990s, Sainsbury targeted new parents and expecting mothers with its kid-friendly "Little Ones" program.

Brand Image

As brand ambassador, Jamie Oliver manages Sainsbury's brand image. The company tends to focus on one or two major image issues at a time. In spring of 2010, the company focused on providing the best-tasting food for its shoppers. In the latter part of 2010 and early 2011, the company began shifting focus to its fresh food offerings. Also during this period, Sainsbury's began focusing on building an image as a socially and environmentally responsible retailer via its "Different Values" campaign, which includes making customers aware of its plans to become carbon-neutral by 2012.

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