Waitrose is seen as the luxury end of the supermarket industry in the UK. It is part of the John Lewis Partnership, which furnishes and clothes us in some style.
It was not immune to the effects of the recession which was biting into sales. Even the more well heeled customers were buying less per visit and also leaving to shop at less expensive retailers.
The challenge for Waitrose was to stop the exodus without damaging the brand. This is tricky, if you cut price it takes away the very base of the brand. Waitrose took the challenge and launched its Essentials range. According to Marketing Week, the chain expected sales of the initial 800 products labelled ‘essential Waitrose’s to hit a target of 15% of sales by October.
A direct marketing and outdoor media campaign was launched and sales are way ahead of estimates. Targets have been hit 3 months early and beat even the most optimistic of forecasts. The plan is now to expand the range to cover around another 600 products.
The Marketing Lesson here is the avoid damaging the brand. The launch was an addition but if too many products become ‘essential’ this could devalue the brand as the overall balance moves away from the core brand values