Sir: For a long time UK supermarkets have held to an established pattern: the big four alongside the high-end retailers such as Waitrose and M&S and smaller operators such as Iceland and Budgens.
Yet discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl have seen a huge surge in popularity (‘How big can the discounters get in the UK?’ 9 August, p26). However, the modern savvy shopper is concerned about far more than just low prices, especially in the wake of food crises like Horsegate and recent campylobacter revelations. Consumers now question exactly what is in the food they buy. Recent research showed 83% of consumers demand increased transparency and information on food products.
By offering customers exactly what they want, the established retailers can better compete with discount retailers. This goes beyond just low cost. By providing greater transparency of information such as health benefits, ethics such as Fairtrade or free range, specific farming methods such as organic or GM-free, to country of origin, they can compete by offering greater choice and better information. Furthermore, driving innovative new products to market can mean increased success for retailers.
Bold packaging design, single serving portions and new ingredients are all ways retailers can innovate with own label. So, rather than focusing solely on price, the retailers that concentrate on increased transparency and innovation will ensure their customers get the best deal in the long run.
Nick Martin, SVP Northern Europe, Trace One