The value of values

1303054_Sainsbury_s_values_bananaA supermarket competing on value? Nothing new in that. But a supermarket competing on values? Now, that is a bit more rare.

Sainsbury’s is taking on Tesco’s. The issue is do with the Price Promise made by the supermarkets. The Advertising Standards Association has sided with Tesco saying that a comparison can be made between products purely on the basis of price. Sainsbury’s says that this is misleading, and that ethical considerations should be taken into account as well – otherwise you are not comparing apples with apples, or bananas with bananas.

Sainsbury’s has done the research to show that their customers are interested in where food comes from, and will make purchasing decisions on that basis. 84% of people surveyed who expressed a view agreed that ‘where and how my food is produced are important factors to me in my buying decisions’. Of the total of people surveyed, 24% of people neither agreed or disagreed, 64% agreed and 16% agreed – so for 2/3rds of people it is important.

Price is important, but it is not everything. We need to get away from the mindset of always driving down to the bottom line. At the recent sustainable consumption conference hosted by L’Oréal in Paris, a representative from Pepsi Co asked people in the audience if price was their main motivation behind their purchases – and when everyone in the audience didn’t put up their hand, he asked ‘why not?’ One of the other panelists tried to explain to him that price wasn’t everything, that she liked to make purchases in line with her values as well.

Good luck to Sainsbury’s in the Judicial Review. As brands talk about sustainable consumption and behaviour change, they themselves need to make a stand for what they know is right. And in doing so, they will appeal to those consumers who share their values. That is one of the values of values.

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