Bridgethorne: supermarket results show need for integrated shopper management

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The financial performance of two of the big retail multiples – Tesco and Sainsbury’s – reinforces the importance of retailers and suppliers gaining a more detailed understanding of changing shopper habits and needs, according to Bridgethorne, the customer, category management and shopper marketing specialist.

Sainsbury’s like-for-like sales grew by 2% excluding fuel in the quarter to the end of September. This equates to a 1.4% growth in like-for-like sales in the first half of the year; a noticeably stronger performance that the 0.5% drop reported by Tesco.

Sainsbury’s impressive performance was driven by sales of its own-brand food and clothing range Tu, as well as its online and convenience store businesses. Sainsbury’s online grocery sales rose by more than 15% in its second quarter, while convenience store sales rose 20%. Sales of Taste the Difference and By Sainsbury’s own-label food grew at more than twice the rate of branded food.

“What we are seeing here is the outcome of a steady and sustained power shift away from major brands and retailers to the shopper,” said Bridgethorne co-founder John Nevens. “Part of this has been due to socio-demographic changes, from an ageing population and the rise of single occupancy households; but importantly with Sainsbury’s performance, through multi-format retailing taking account of the continuing drive for convenience they have got to grips better with this new retail landscape.” 

The improvement in Sainsbury’s performance, which seems to demonstrate a recognition of changing shopper behaviour, should sound a warning to suppliers that they need to better understand these changes if they are going to succeed long term. Suppliers and retailers have to better influence their shopper’s journey through the point of purchase interface, says Nevens – the place where the shopper and the product meet – and to create a strategic role for the shopper in their planning alongside the consumer. So, if shoppers are now in control and have different missions and requirements to consumers, suppliers and retailers have to address their needs.

“Fully integrating your shopper into your organisation’s existing strategy, planning and activation processes will lead to more effective commercial investment, without necessarily actually requiring more commercial investment. We call it integrated shopper management….or “shopperism” for short,” he said.