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Supermarket wars: Sainsbury’s move to eat rivals’ lunches could turn sour

Stephan Shakespeare
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A butcher passes a sign announcing a 20 percent di
Sainsbury's has removed its more expensive “taste the difference” sandwiches (Source: Getty)

British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s recently changed the terms of its lunchtime meal deal offering – much to the dismay of many customers.

It decided to remove its more expensive “taste the difference” sandwiches from the deal, and has rebranded the lunchtime option to “on the go”.

The move was met with bewilderment on social media (though a good proportion of this was firmly tongue in cheek) – with perhaps the most pertinent accusation that the ‘deal’ is actually no longer that.

New YouGov Omnibus research has highlighted that while on their lunch break, the majority (at around 55 per cent) of people actually eat a meal they have prepared at home.

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Just six per cent say they purchase a meal deal from a supermarket and a further five per cent say they buy a meal deal from a food chain (for example from Greggs and Boots) or from an independent cafe or shop.

However, the research did show that those in the 18-24 age group are far more likely to purchase a meal deal.

Of this age group, 12 per cent say they purchased a meal deal compared with two per cent of those aged over 55.

YouGov’s brand tracking data has indicated that there has been a noticeable increase in people talking about the supermarket in the past few weeks.

Sainsbury’s word of mouth exposure score – which takes into account whether a respondent has discussed a brand in the past fortnight – has risen by three points, and now stands at plus 15.

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Unfortunately for Sainsbury’s as a result, its value score – which measures whether you think a brand provides value for money – plummeted by four points among all respondents following the news of the change – though it has begun to recover slightly. A similar fall is seen among current Sainsbury’s customers – among this group the value score has fallen from plus 36 to plus 31. Of course, this is a fairly minor change, and the future success and perception of Sainsbury’s hardly hinges on it.

However, the lucrative lunchtime rush is important, and if meal-deal devotees do choose to abandon Sainsbury’s for a direct rival, don’t rule out a U-turn.

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