Asda CMO: ‘Rivals’ price matching schemes are anti-competitive’

Asda’s marketing chief says he finds rivals attempts to check each other’s prices ‘anti-competitive’ and that it’s going to continue to speak its 10 per cent cheaper message.

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Asda’s Christmas campaign specializes in its 10 per cent lower price promise

Speaking at an event in London yesterday (14 November) CMO Stephen Smith criticised price matching schemes reminiscent of Sainsbury’s Brand Match, which offers to compare rivals’ prices for branded goods, and Tesco Price Promise, consisting of branded and own-brand grocery products.

“It is strange to me that our competitors are touting how much they match prices and are training parity. i locate it almost anti-competitive that enormous competitors are talking about and proud to be matching each other’s prices. We’re the only ones standing up and saying we’ll be 10 per cent cheaper,” he said.

Asda’s Christmas marketing this year, while expanding to encompass quality, will still “relentlessly” concentrate on price. That features taking a dig at rivals with its 10 per cent lower cost promise and an “aggressive” spot the variation campaign.

In a shift from last year, it won’t take care of any style of vouchering or money-off coupons. Smith criticised rivals for investing in promotional gimmicks by offering vouchers while while increasing prices.

Asda has announced it’s putting £1bn into keeping prices low over the following five years, £400m greater than it previously planned to speculate.

“When our competitors voucher, somebody has to pay for those vouchers. We see it as their customers are paying and that’s not a direction we wish to go. They put money into gimmicks, we put money into price,” he said.

Asda’s Christmas marketing message continues its give attention to pricing, taking aim at rivals with a snowman ad that boosts the ten per cent lower cost. Additionally it is planning to push a top quality message and highlight key items corresponding to its wines and bakery selection inside the run-as much as Christmas, deliberately eschewing rivals’ emotional brand messages.

”This year we’ve got a totally integrated trading plan that’s all based around big bets. We’ve built a campaign that’s a lot more hardworking, delivering a variety of messages.

“I love watching other people’s ads. Would I even have done them? Not likely. But I’m not of their seats, I don’t know their business plans.”

Speaking to Marketing Week separately, Asda’s head of social media, Dominic Burch, said posts about its Christmas snowman ad reached 2.7m people on Facebook through a mix of organic and paid-for reach, with the supermarket spending around £3,500 boosting posts. Overall, he said Asda reaches around 9m Facebook users a month.  

Smith said the supermarket has a “rule” on social media that it posts 9 messages which are “fun, engaging and build a conversation” before it posts any commercial message.

“It’s a terribly simple rule, but what it’s doing for us is building a relationship with our Facebook fans.

“We do loads of research on understanding those customers and they’re our most loyal customers, they’re our advocates. When times are tough they’ll defend us and that they keep us honest,” he said.