Waitrose joins battle for Ocado shoppers

waitroseWaitrose is launching a marketing campaign that aims to play up the exclusivity of its products as it goes up against Marks & Spencer in the battle for Ocado shoppers.

The supermarket’s 18-year partnership with Ocado ends on 1 September as M&S takes over, with both retailers battling it out to attract shoppers of the online grocer.

Waitrose’s campaign aims to raise awareness of the switchover, showcase the supermarket’s online proposition and drive traffic to Waitrose.com. It also wants to continue establishing itself as the “highest quality grocer”. 

Waitrose’s interim head of brand marketing, James Morrison, explains: “ A big part of the campaign is to help customers realise that if they want to buy Waitrose products there’s only one place to get it – Waitrose.com. The other element is to continue to establish ourselves as a leading brand in food quality and that we have food like no other.”

Waitrose’s campaign comes as M&S also launches marketing aimed at retaining Ocado shoppers and getting more families to do their big shop with it.

Both are investing heavily, but differ in their approach. While M&S is going on TV and focusing on price, Waitrose is prioritising social media and a push on quality.

Morrison believes that “marketing is really important” when it comes to communicating the brand’s premium price point.

Working in collaboration with its agency Adam&EveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD, the supermarket’s campaign to “bring home Ocado shoppers to Waitrose.com” will run across advertising, PR, social media, digital and CRM channels.

M&S boss: We must get back to being a value retailer

Waitrose has heavily invested ahead of the switchover, funding the development of thousands of new products. It has spent millions of pounds on a new food innovation centre and a distribution centre, as well as 5,000 new or reformulated products and the campaign.

Morrison notes that Waitrose accounts for 25% of Ocado’s sales so “we know there are a lot of customers out there who like us on Ocado”. It is hoping it can convince the majority of them to stay loyal to Waitrose rather than Ocado.

The brand is also planning discounts over the next couple of months to tempt customers to switch to Waitrose online.

The push on its online service comes as Waitrose pushes its core strength in quality through its ‘You can taste when it’s Waitrose’ campaign launched in February.

“Whether its handpicked tomatoes in season or other stories to reassert that quality lead, we want to highlight the quality of our products,” Morrison says. 

“As part of food quality we’ve tried to highlight issues for those customers who care about food standards. Whether that’s being the only supermarket to ensure all pigs are outdoor bred or taking great steps for cows to spend as much time outside,” he adds.

Investing in Waitrose.com

Having expanded rapidly in recent months, Waitrose.com is on track to treble in size to become a £1bn business by the end of the year, according to the brand. This has been accelerated by increasing demand due to Covid-19, with Waitrose increasing its delivery capacity by around 50% to offer 160,000 delivery slots each week.

The brand’s biggest challenge, however, is still capacity, according to Morrison.

To deal with that, it recently launched a service called Rapid that offers same-day delivery on Waitrose products for orders across London. It is currently seeing around 7,000 orders per week.

“Customer response has been fantastic and is exactly what people are looking for given coronavirus, and we don’t see that trend dying down,” Morrison explains.

Waitrose has also begun releasing its Christmas products, with customers able to buy them in September. Morrison says that although the festive period is as important as ever, Waitrose is keen to acknowledge it has been “a year like no other”.

He explains: “Christmas plans remain really important to us, it’s a time of year where people want to treat themselves and want the very best for their family.

“We are making the most appropriate marketing given its been a year like no other. We need to reflect the times and acknowledge there has never been a year like this.”

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