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Tesco among score of UK supermarkets losing “sense of purpose”

16th Nov 2015
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Tesco is one of several high-profile UK supermarket chains losing its “sense of purpose”, according to the 2015 annual Brand Storytelling survey from Aesop.

The poll looks to establish which brands best demonstrate “a sense of who they are, what they stand for, and what their ultimate purpose is”, identifying nine different elements of successful storytelling including personality, entertainment value and memorability, and interviewing nearly 3,000 UK consumers. 

It found Apple holding onto its position as the leading brand in the UK, followed by MacMillan and the National Trust, and with IKEA close behind as the top performing retailer.

Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl rose dramatically on previous years to be ranked in the top 30. However, Tesco’s rating among consumers has slumped in the wake of a turbulent 12 months for the supermarket chain, which achieved a top 20 ranking at 13th in 2013, dropping 14 places to 27th in 2014 before dropping out of the top 50 with a ranking of 51st this year - one place behind Durex and one ahead of Easyjet.

Indeed, for the first time since the study’s inception, a UK supermarket failed to feature in the top 20. Marks and Spencer is the top-performing grocer, ranked 22nd.

“Tesco has been in free fall on our survey. Of the big four [UK supermarkets], it is the one that has most lost its sense of purpose, and this is reflected in opinion about it,” says Ed Woodcock, Director of Narrative for Aesop.

“As ever, those brands with a strong sense of mission do well in our storytelling survey. Their purposes for ‘being’ makes their narratives heroic and their storytelling clear and compelling. Those brands that have lost a sense of who they are and why they exist have taken a tumble.”

Indeed, Tesco posted record losses of £6.4bn in 2015, following an accountancy scandal in October 2014. Since then, the company has replaced its CEO and returned to its previous brand mission of ‘Every Little Helps’, in a bid to reengage with disillusioned customers.

However, Aesop’s study found that consumers had yet to buy back into the return to the previous brand story, and that many still lacked trust with the supermarket giant.    

“If the company is to resurrect ‘Every Little Helps’, it can’t just be a strapline, but a heartfelt reappraisal of what they really mean by it these days. Aldi and Lidl, by contrast, know exactly who they are, whom they serve and where they are going, with characterful communications that reinforce their distinct role in consumers lives.”

Morrisons is also struggling to get its messages heard, with just 15% of UK consumers citing the supermarket as producing content that is ‘memorable’. 

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