Why customers get a better deal at Sainsbury’s


Sainsbury’s customers love clear prices and they hate wasting food. We knew this when we decided earlier this year to phase out promotional offers that encourage shoppers to buy more than one pack of the same product.

We’ve all been tempted by offers such as “three for the price of two”, “buy one get one free” and “three for £10” – what we call multi-buys in the grocery trade. These sound like a good deal but for many people they also create disappointment and frustration later on at home.

There are at least four reasons for that. First, many customers find they buy more than they need. So far from making a saving on that tasty steak or that delicious piece of salmon, they end up throwing the food away uneaten. That doesn’t feel so good. It’s costly and it’s wasteful.

Second, it makes it harder for customers to judge and compare value. The arithmetic to work out the “true” pack price is not hard, but it’s unnecessary. Furthermore, multi-buy promotions come and go, leaving customers uncertain about what the goods in their basket should cost.

Third, and most important, shopping habits are changing, reflecting our increasingly busy lifestyles in a mobile, “always on” world. People are shopping more frequently – hence the popularity of convenience stores such as Sainsbury’s Local – and they are increasingly ordering their food online. When customers split their traditional weekly shop in this way, multi-buy offers are increasingly unhelpful and irrelevant to their lives.

Finally, it also means that customers end up sacrificing freshness.  They end up buying more products in one go that then sit in the fridge or fruit bowl waiting to be eaten when alternatively they could buy fresher product more often.  Our customers chose us because they know that we work really hard to deliver on quality, particularly on the all-important fresh foods, and so with this change in approach customers will be able to do exactly that; shop little and often to enjoy the freshest product at home.

I am delighted to be able to report that phasing out multi-buys in favour of lower regular prices has proved a big hit with Sainsbury’s customers. In fact, so popular has it proved that we decided to accelerate the change, eliminating all multi-buys by the end of June, two months ahead of schedule.

With more flexibility to make their own choices, customers are buying a greater variety of food, experimenting with new products and pack sizes now that they are not tied into multi-buys. Customers tell us that they’re also saving money because they’re wasting less and only buying what they need. And satisfaction scores clearly show that customers are enjoying the changes we are making.

Our lower regular prices has made it easier for Sainsbury’s to offer our customers choice, which is at the heart of our strategy to deliver great quality products at fair prices.  We’re convinced that this new approach, with clearer prices and less waste, is right for today, and that our rivals clinging on to multi-buys are out of step with modern food consumers. So today I am calling on other retailers to follow our lead and make things easier for their customers, too.

Paul Mills-Hicks, Food Commercial Director


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