With Aldi declaring its “best Christmas ever”, it’s abundantly clear that Morrisons’ recent price cuts are not only intended to help customers pinch those post-Christmas pennies. They are also the latest attempt in the long-running struggle to counter the discounter threat.
However, the truth is that Morrisons will never be able to compete with Aldi or Lidl on price alone. It needs to focus on what has always made it stand apart from the competition: in-store experience. With its Market Street concept and expert staff, Morrisons has a firm reputation for leading on in-store shopper experience among UK supermarkets. It is here it needs to entrench its position as a market leader, if it is to continue to stave off the discounter challenge.
A reputation for excellence
Morrisons has long been famed for its Market Street concept and it makes great efforts to locally source produce wherever possible, pushing freshness and integrity while offering a ‘high street’ experience. An example of this is its fully trained butchers and fishmongers who possess the craft skills to offer a wide array of value-added services. This is a unique feature to Morrisons amongst its competitors, and these in-store experiences add to its appeal. Its revamped produce departments are particularly strong, vibrantly showcasing food such as avocados and herbs.
All of this combined adds to the authenticity of its offering, which is so perfectly explained by its strapline: ‘Morrisons makes it’. This is where Morrisons needs to continue to build its momentum to differentiate itself from other supermarkets, and ultimately win loyalty. It’s this Market Street approach, elevating the in-store experience, that really allows customers to feel the difference when visiting their local supermarket.
Catering for families
Engaging children is another strategy Morrisons has successfully used, but there are opportunities to do so further. It has positioned itself as a family-friendly supermarket, with popular recent initiatives such as providing free fruit for kids in store. Its new meal deal to feed a family of four for £10, and the provision of health-orientated chillers for kids and free colouring books available in store cafés, are wonderful examples of how it has won over families.
However, there are several other retailers throughout Europe who have taken this concept to the next level. Both Albert Heijn in the Netherlands and Auchan City in Russia have dedicated shop floor space as a children’s play area. As every parent taking their children shopping knows, this little feature can be a life saver and a huge helping hand to parents who want to shop in peace. Although this isn’t common in British supermarkets, it’s small gestures like this that could enable Morrisons to win loyalty, more so than price cuts.
Though very much welcomed by customers in the short term, price cuts alone will not help Morrisons capture ongoing customer loyalty. Its vertically integrated supply chain, Market Street and skilled staff are just some of the unique traits that set Morrisons apart from other supermarkets. It must continue to build upon these strengths as it seeks to protect its market share from the ever-growing threat of the discounters.
Nicky Guest is head of in-store excellence at TCC Global