Sainsbury’s #50pChallenge is a poster boy for its decline - Brand Index

Stephan Shakespeare
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THESE are not happy times for Sainsbury’s. It became the brunt of many a joke when a poster meant for staff asking them to convince shoppers to spend an extra 50p on their visits was mistaken­ly displayed in a branch window.

Photos of the poster went viral with the #50pChallenge hashtag. Discounter Lidl had a cheeky dig, publishing a tweet “to encourage every one of our lovely customers to save as many 50ps as possible”.

While Lidl’s response was light-hearted, it hinted at a wider trend that YouGov has noted.

Our mid-year BrandIndex Buzz Rankings showed Aldi and Lidl in the top four, while Sainsbury’s came in 10th.

According to YouGov’s SOMA tool, 16 per cent of our representative Twitter panel were exposed to the #50pchallenge hashtag. One-fifth of the panel said they had seen a tweet that mentioned both “Sainsbury’s” and “50p”.

Several commenters held negative views, such as: “I did think there was someone following me around the store whispering ‘buy more expensive wine’ last time I went shopping #50pChallenge.”

YouGov’s Buzz rankings, which assesses whether a respondent has heard anything negative or positive about a brand, shows the contrasting fortunes of Sainsbury’s and Lidl since the poster became public. Sainsbury’s score decreased to a low of minus 11.2, a big decrease from +10.8 beforehand.

The 50p incident may be trivial, but there can be an immediate impact on a brand. Although this faux pas is likely to be forgotten quickly, it is imperative for brands such as Sainsbury’s to understand the influence of such publicity and find ways to harness public positivity.

Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov.