Insight adding value to a national supermarket

Michelle Chiffers
Somerfield Consumer Insight, United Kingdom

Tim Knight
Nunwood Consulting, United Kingdom

Napoleon Bonaparte, shortly before being decisively defeated in open battle and promptly exiled to Elba, described the English as “A nation of shopkeepers.” Whether this was entirely accurate at the time is debatable, but move the clock forward some two hundred years and there's a ring of truth to his words. As much as anywhere else in the world, the UK retail environment is sophisticated, high value and in a state of constant development. Nowhere is this truer than in the cut-throat field of supermarket retail.

In 2003 the UK grocery market was valued at £115 billion – almost threefourths of which was captured by supermarkets and superstores. This market state is the net product of forty years of increased consumption, consolidation and competition, levels of which have reached fever pitch recently with unprecedentedly intense rivalry amongst the leading players. To some analysts the absorption of Safeway into the Morrison's empire signified a possible lull in hostilities; others, however, recognised it as the opening shots of battle in earnest.