Why Discount Supermarkets aren’t All They Seem

Why Discount Supermarkets aren’t All They Seem

The news today has been dominated by the announcement from the UK’s biggest supermarket chain that their profit fell by 6% to £3.3bn. Having just been invited to participate in a discussion on national radio about this news, what intrigued me was the psychology of the debate. The results create a negative prime and most of the callers into the radio show started their ‘reaction’ with a stinging indictment of Tesco’s customer service, products or prices.  In fact, had a Martian been listening to the vehement critique of the retailer he would surely have assumed that the company was down to it’s last store and that tumbleweed was blowing down the aisles where shoppers used to be! In reality, Tesco still meets the supermarket shopping needs of more customers than any other company. Undoubtedly they have struggled under the competitive pressure from both sides of the economic spectrum: Waitrose has […]

Is Almost Every Company Making the Same Mistake?

Anyone who works for a large organisation and who has ever wanted to do something constructive for that organisation, will have experienced the same questions and the same dark forces waiting to challenge their brilliantly conceived scheme: the finance department. Arguably, it’s reasonable enough that a corporation, preoccupied as it is with making, sustaining and growing profit, should have a beady eye on every single cost that is incurred in the course of such pursuits. That this can lead to conflicts and disputes is unquestionable.  Frequently the return on investment from activity, particularly marketing activity, is hard to evaluate: it can be tricky to gauge how long a long term brand-building exercise will be making a return and valuing brands themselves is a topic that is hotly debated.  Assumptions are made (explicitly or implicitly) and models constructed: although often the casual observer might question the extent to which these are […]

Getting Published: So I’ve Written My Book

I pondered whether to use this blog on consumer behaviour to detail my book-writing journey and have decided that, since the book is (of course) about consumer behaviour and market research, it’s fair enough.  And I’ll be explaining elements of psychology that crop up along the way too, so I hope it will be interesting from a number of angles. So, I’ve written my book.  And writing a book is quite hard.  Between making the decision that I wanted to write a book and sitting there thinking, “Bloody hell, I’ve finished” there were weeks of sitting and researching and typing and hoping and wondering. The wondering is quite preoccupying.  Writing is a very solitary process and you occasionally wonder if what you’re writing is worthwhile, whether anyone would be in the least bit interested in what you’re writing about and, perhaps most worryingly, whether you’re capable of writing at all.  […]

Consumer Behaviour: Price is Not What it Seems

When it comes to understanding consumers it’s always important to consider the issues from a rational perspective, and then completely ignore what you conclude. Why? Because consumer behaviour isn’t, for the most part, rationally based. Recently I happened across a great example. The UK supermarket chain Waitrose has always operated at the higher end of the market, catering to customers who are willing to pay a little more for higher quality produce.  Waitrose’s marketing makes much of the fact that they source their products carefully; some of their packaging will state which farm meat has come from for instance. With the economic downturn all of the supermarkets have been keen to communicate low price messages; which isn’t easy since most of them operated on a low price platform anyway.  Indeed, the big two supermarkets (Asda who are owned by Wal Mart) and Tesco frequently squeeze suppliers brutally hard in order […]