DES: Sainsbury's, Britain's No.3 supermarket store chain, launched a new marketing campaign a few months back to stop its slippery slide down the supermarket league table.
TINA: Once the country's grocery brand leader, Sainsbury's is now dangerously close to becoming an also-ran, as market leader Tesco continues its relentless march to market domination. (But see footnote: Tesco).
DES: Sainsbury's new senior management continues to develop the 4P's - Product/Price/Promotion/Place - but that strategy can only maintain its No.3 position or possibly from time to time overtake Asda/Walmart at No.2. But it needs a new brand strategy if it wants to become a genuine contender for Tesco's brand leading position (See Footnote: Asda).
TINA: I agree. But rather than trying to exploit the competition's weaknesses, it should do the opposite - find their weakness in strength - their Achilles heel.
DES: Both brand leaders have massive buying power, gained not only through their domestic markets but also through an extensive overseas presence.
TINA: Therein lies the weakness, as it is impossible for either of them to concentrate on a single geographic market to the exclusion of the rest of their portfolios.
DES: A situation that Sainsbury's could exploit by focusing its attention solely on the British market.
TINA: But not with the usual 'Buy British' or 'Back Britain' campaigns. Although selling their US operations was a smart strategic move. Only market leaders should attempt expanding into new geographic or product markets.
DES: In the 21st Century, it's through cultural branding that Sainsbury's could pull off a great marketing coup.
TINA: By aligning itself with one of Britain's major cultural tensions or disruptions.
DES: Clearly Britain's traditional mix of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and other north European cultures have been influenced by the relatively newer Asian, Afro-Caribbean, Arab and south/east European cultures. Witness Asia's curry vying with fish and chips for the title of Britain's national dish.
TINA: But it's the transition from the old to the new which is at the heart of the current cultural tensions which Sainsbury's should align itself with.
DES: Starting with explaining and promoting one of the great Eastern culinary traditions of Halal using the brand's current celebrity spokesperson: Chef Jamie Oliver.
TINA: Welcome to the UK's original culinary cultural destination: Sainsbury's - Britain's Grocer since 1869.
'Brand' the Marketect says:
"To reach and enjoy iconic brand status, techniques such as mind-share, viral and emotional branding are no longer enough - for products as well as places. In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, brands must also become cultural activists by aligning themselves with the appropriate cultural tensions or disruptions affecting or influencing the identity values of a place and its people." (See footnote: IKEA)
Tesco is currently experimenting with stand-alone non-food mega stores - branded Tesco HomePlus. But contrary to expert opinion, this could be good news for Tesco's supermarket rivals as it will unfocus Tesco who wrongly think that sales of their higher margin non-food items are due to great products at great prices rather than the primary reason which is the convenience factor during their customers' regular food shopping trips.
In February, Tesco announced its US plans, to open a convenient store format in 2007 starting on America's West Coast. Yet another distraction which could potentially play into the hands of Tesco's UK-focused grocery competitors.
Asda, like Tesco, is also reported to be experimenting with stand alone non-food stores - Asda Living - instead of focusing on its current food-cum-non-food format. Good news for Sainsbury's who could now regain its second spot while Asda gets distracted chasing Tesco down the non-food cul-de-sac.
IKEA the furniture retailer is one of the all-time great cultural branding icons, whose aiignment with Sweden's social democratic design culture has transformed it into a global brand icon in virtually every geographic market it has entered - despite the inconvenience of self-service, self-delivery and self-assembly. However, with the shift of social democracy from the left to the centre (and in some countries, with the exception of a few South American nations, slightly towards the right), IKEA will need to understand how this shift will impact on home interior design and perhaps adjust its cultural branding strategy, or even find a new global cultural disruption to focus on. It's no coincidence that the word 'cult' can be found in 'culture' as well as 'cultivate'.