David vs Goliath? Why Tesco's “Every Little Helps” is losing the battle for supermarket supremacy

Andrew Mulholland
Follow Andrew
Tesco’s promise doesn't work hard enough (Source: Getty)
Like most of us, I’ve been watching the differing fortunes of Tesco and Aldi play out over the past few days. And it’s compulsive viewing, not least of all because we love the underdog. Plucky little Aldi with just 500 stores, takes on the might of Tesco and gives the goliath a bloody nose. Great stuff.
As if to re-enforce its pantomime bad guy role (adding a touch of spice to the story), Tesco is being investigated by the FCA after admitting overstating its profits.
Breathless reports about how half of us now shop at either Aldi or Lidl flash across our screens and the chattering classes are lapping it up.
The battle lines have now stretched to the world of branding. My friends cite the fact that the amount Tesco spends on marketing in the UK is more than Aldi has to fund its expansion plans to double the number of stores. They gleefully interpret this as evidence that the end of brands is nigh.
But I think otherwise.
From a branding perspective at least, brand strength doesn’t have to correlate to size. Tesco’s promise of “Every Little Helps” has a nice understated tone of voice, but in the continued grip of a financial squeeze, Aldi’s “Permanently Low Prices” works far harder. Their consumer isn’t interested in a little help with the cost of their weekly shop. They want a lot of help.
And in all the noise, it’s easy to overlook that, at the other end of the spectrum, Waitrose's market share also grew.
So while I wouldn’t presume to tell Dave Lewis I have the silver bullet for his many challenges, it does look like Tesco, from a brand perspective at least, is lost in no-man’s land. It finds itself uncomfortably placed with neither a winning value proposition to beat the likes of Aldi or Lidl, nor a quality promise to challenge Waitrose (or even Sainsbury’s for that matter). As a result, the body blows are raining in from all around, with every little competitor helping himself to a slice of its market share.
I don’t think of Tesco as Goliath, it’s far worse than that, I feel rather sorry for it!

Related articles