Mike Coupe has promised no stone will be left unturned at the interims in November as he seeks to arrest an alarming deterioration in Sainsbury’s trading, but it looks like he has brought forward at least one initiative, an update to Brand Match - the second reboot in four months.
It’s an interesting move but I have to say I don’t really get it. At first glance it looks clever. By focusing exclusively on Asda in its new price-matching scheme, it’s effectively dismissing Tesco as a competitive force. Touché.
It also puts the heat on Waitrose, Ocado (and Budgens) - players who have long since identified in Tesco’s pricing an easy target for matching due to its high net margins.
Sainsbury’s is also using Asda’s price equity in a very clear way - it has even gone as far as using Asda green on Brand Match PoS.
“While Brand Match has been watered down, fair play to Morrisons for tackling the discounters head on”
Adam Leyland, Editor
But even before Dave Lewis gets to grips with Tesco’s price file, Tesco is no pushover. Matching the lows in Tesco’s erratic high-low strategy is problematic. Sainsbury’s will be saving itself a fortune by eliminating Tesco from its price-matching pledge. Surely shoppers will figure this out for themselves.
And what of matching Asda? It’s consistently cheaper (and I would take issue with Coupe’s claim that it’s the same price or less on 50% of occasions: analysis of our Grocer 33 shops since the 2014/15 competition kicked off in June shows Asda was cheaper on 70% of occasions, with its average basket 7.5% cheaper). And anyway, Sainsbury’s was already matching Asda. So it represents a watering down of Brand Match.
Nor does it address the elephants in the room - the discounters. And fair play to Morrisons for tackling them head-on with its first-ever loyalty card (though we’ve yet to learn exactly how Morrisons will fund this).
And the other issue I have with Brand Match 2.0 is that Tesco’s price file won’t stay this way for long. Once he’s got to the bottom of the profits overstatement, Dave Lewis’ Tesco surely won’t be making up the numbers.
Not any more it won’t.