Sainsbury's relaunches posh range as supermarket food fight rages

The retailer is targeting the middle classes - another front in the supermarkets' increasingly competitive war for custom...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Back in 2005, Sainsbury's ditched its 'Making Life Taste Better' tagline, supposedly on the grounds that it was too posh. But it seems the supermarket is once again aiming for the hearts (and wallets) of the middle classes: it's just unveiled plans to relaunch its upmarket Taste the Difference range, in a bid to muscle in on the consumers who would ordinarily do their weekly shop at Waitrose or Marks & Spencer. It’s the latest in a series of attempts by supermarkets to encourage consumers to spend more in the face of increasingly fierce competition. But while the likes of Asda and Tesco have got down and dirty with competitive cost-cutting, Sainsbury’s seems to be taking the higher road...
The Taste the Difference range, which is currently worth £1bn to Sainsbury’s, will grow by 150 lines, taking it to 1,141 products. Apparently the ‘multi-million pound’ rejig is the biggest new product launch in the supermarket’s history. The ad campaign (fronted by Jamie Oliver, natch) got going last night, during a break in the middle of that beacon of all things upmarket, Emmerdale (ahem). Still, with new products including a 'Bistro' line of ‘restaurant-quality’ ready-meals, Sainsbury’s is hoping to cash in on our increasing tendency to eat in, rather than going out. (A couple of years too late, you might argue, but still.)
On the face of it, Sainsbury's seems to be taking a different approach from Asda, whose recent milk price war with Tesco over suggested it was aiming for the lower end of the market. But Asda's also trying to encourage a bit of trading-up: on Tuesday it revealed a £100m relaunch of its own-brand standard line, which new boss Andy Clarke reckons is  ‘invisible and quite unloved', at least in comparison to its popular Value and Extra Special ranges. Bless. But with 3,500 products given a rejig, and another 500 lines added to the range, plus a greater concentration on quality, Clarke is clearly hoping that customers who would usually go for the Value range can be persuaded to spend that little bit extra. Tesco's also extending its successful Finest range.
With food prices back on the rise and an increasingly crowded marketplace, supermarkets are having to work harder to boost their sales growth figures. And the gloves are off: Tesco managed to persuade the Advertising Standards Authority this week that Asda's 'lower prices on everything you buy, week in, week out’ tagline was misleading, which meant the latter was forced to pull the ads. By contrast, Sainsbury's bid to target aspirational customers seems rather more civilised. But will it work?

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