Sainsbury's shifts agency relationships

14 March 2014
LONDON: Sainsbury's, the UK supermarket chain, has made changes to its agency relationships by using cross-functional agency teams in order to improve its research and advertising functions.

Speaking on day two of Warc's Measuring Advertising Performance conference (Warc subscribers can view a report of the day's presentations here), Claire Taylor, senior insight manager at Sainsbury's, said that the company had broken out of its "silo-ed" approach in order to get agencies working together more effectively.

"We used to brief individual agencies on their own, on individual issues," she told delegates. "There was no link-up, and there were clear differences in response. Now, we do exploratory work and together reshape what the brief should look like across the agencies. What's been brilliant is how much enthusiasm there is for this among the agencies."

Taylor also discussed the complex relationships the retailer maintains in its insights function, with a variety of internal and external sources including the Nectar loyalty card programme, which has 12m active members and is therefore one of the UK's largest data sets.

"We need to move from having 'insights' to having 'foresights'. Understanding the complexity of Sainsbury's as a business and in the marketplace is something we have thought through with our agencies in delivering for the business," she said.

Despite enthusiasm among agencies for the changes, there is still a way to go in terms of measuring effectiveness, Taylor suggested. But the joined-up approach has at least helped in getting the whole team to agree to clear business objectives at the start of the process.

"If you don't do that, you're not going to remember what the purpose of the project was at the evaluation stage," she added. "So we're moving more and more towards that."

The cross-functional team approach has also assisted with the company's advertising, including the flagship Make the Most of Your Roast campaign, now in its second year.

For 2014, Sainsbury's has focused on including more digital touchpoints, such as a series of online videos for recipes provided by food blogger Jack Monroe, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/15/jack-monroe-sainsburys-campaign-leftovers-love-your-roast the campaign's front woman. "This is a great representation of what we're trying to do as a business," Taylor added.

Data sourced from Warc
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