Asda That's Better screen shot_resized

Asda has been accused of running a “phantom promotion” in its latest wave of price cuts, with leading analysts claiming many shoppers will be unaware the new price push is even happening.

Despite a new advertising campaign, starring celebrity chef James Martin, backing “thousands” of price cuts, experts have been left underwhelmed by the lack of in-store support and press advertising to back the That’s Better campaign, which launched last week.

“If it wasn’t for the story in The Grocer I wouldn’t have even known there was a price offensive going on.”

Retail analyst

HSBC analyst Dave McCarthy described the campaign as “a phantom promotion” and said it was “the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in terms of promotions”.

In July, McCarthy issued a note titled Defcon 1, in which he claimed a sweeping price repositioning by Asda could cause shockwaves across the sector.

But he said this week Asda had stopped well short of what it needed to do to address the loss of its price positioning.

“We’ve seen news reports but as yet we’ve seen nothing by way of advertising or any promotion in stores,” said McCarthy.

Another leading source added: “If it wasn’t for the story in The Grocer I wouldn’t have even known there was a price offensive going on.

“I have been in to Asda stores since the launch and not seen anything at all. Where is the big campaign in the tabloids? I can’t see anything about it on the website. It all smacks of a cock-up.”

John Mercer, an analyst at think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology, added: “The store we visited had plenty of Asda Rollback signage but nothing to speak to customers about the new pricing strategy. It’s all incredibly low-key and it’s hard to understand why Asda is not shouting much louder about what it’s doing.”

Asda rejects criticism

A spokeswoman for Asda denied it had failed to support the price cuts campaign.

“Our TV campaign launched on Saturday 10 September, during X Factor, and will run for several weeks,” she said.

“There will be a 40-second TV ad supported by 20s and 10s value-focused ads from 19 September throughout October. The campaign has also been extended through to the newly re-launched fortnightly Asda Price News, which goes directly to our customers and is also available in store. James Martin will feature in the advertising campaign following a successful run over the summer, which resulted in some fantastic customer feedback.”