Battle of the grocery retail range

Battle of the grocery retail range

How on earth do you decide what to buy, when you’re faced with a whole fridge (or, sometimes, whole aisle) of similar products?

Chances are, if you regularly shop the products that you’re currently staring at, you’ll probably pick up what you normally do and put it straight in your basket, because that’s what you know and trust. If you’re looking for something new, I’d hazard a guess that the packaging will have a massive part to play in determining what you do next. That, and how much you want to pay.

Products at the cheaper end of the spectrum have packaging that’s less visually attractive, that conveys fewer quality messages and does less to appeal to you than those products at the top end, right? The answer is…. not necessarily.

Whilst it’s true that the budget ranges tend to have less fancy packaging (and, most often, less fancy products inside), the supermarket marketeers are working hard to give us packaging that fulfils our desire for nicely-packaged products, no matter what the price.

Value ranges aim to compete with discounters

Take Tesco’s latest ‘value’ range of 76 lines across meat, poultry and produce, which has seen the retailer launch some of its more wallet-friendly products into packaging which is both visually appealing and conveys quality cues, but competes, price-wise, with the discounters.

The rationale is simple: the likes of Aldi and Lidl have had their own ‘brands’ for years and Tesco wants to appeal to shoppers with whom these brands are familiar. These products come from Tesco’s known and trusted supply-base, but have been positioned as sub-brands according to the type of product and come in nice, neat packaging that conveys the messages that customers most likely want to hear.

This differs from the market norm, where you’d typically expect budget products to come in simpler packaging. Yes, there has been some outcry about farms that don’t exist, but Tesco isn’t the first supermarket to have creative license, and it almost certainly won’t be the last.

The price is right for innovative products

Arguably at the other end of the scale, Waitrose has launched its new premium tier, known simply as ‘Waitrose 1’. This brings together ‘The Very Best of Waitrose’ across almost all categories. The range is made up of products that previously sat within a number of different Waitrose ranges, along with new product development and seasonal refreshment.

Whilst the price points might be different, the philosophy is surely the same as Tesco’s: to give customers great products at the price they expect to pay and in packaging that catches their eye as they browse the shelf. Waitrose is renowned for its innovative approach to product development and in-store experience and this range most definitely does not disappoint.

What does ‘value’ mean to customers?

In our work with private brand retailers, we know that providing value to customers varies by their definition of what ‘value’ means. Is it ‘wallet-friendly’ as per the new Tesco range or is it exceptional, innovative products that are worth the price tag as per Waitrose?

To find out if products are meeting customer expectations, it’s important to review all product feedback. We help retailers to do this with our UBX Cloud Software which pulls together customer feedback from returns, social media and call centres alongside the results from benchmark panels and sensory tests to give ‘One View’ of product performance.  And of course this can include a view of packaging performance too.

This One View will be different for each retailer depending on how they measure value; typically a different view for quality depending whether the goal is consistency or benchmark performance against the market.

In the competitive world of private brands, retailers can’t afford to look at only one part of the picture when it comes to product performance.

Ed Perkins
ed.perkins@s4rb.com
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