The battle for customer loyalty reached a turning point in 2010, with supermarkets splashing out unprecedented sums on advertising. Rob Gray analyses The Grocer’s first-ever survey into advertising’s biggest spenders

There is a war raging. It’s being fought over the hearts, minds and wallets of shoppers on our TV screens and in the pages of our newspapers.

And the charge is being led by Britain’s biggest supermarkets, which last year significantly upped their advertising budgets in a bid to woo shoppers, according to research into the country’s biggest advertisers carried out exclusively for The Grocer by Ebiquity.

The research shows a momentous swing in the balance of power, with retailers shelling out more on advertising space than fmcg brands for the fi rst time ever. In 2010, retailers poured £1.73bn into advertising, up 16.6% on 2009, compared with brands’ spend of £1.69bn, up 7.9%. The tipping point came as Britain’s 10 biggest supermarkets forked out £417m on advertising during the year, up 10.4% on 2009.

So why have the multiples been so aggressively advertising and what does it mean for the future of the market?