Sainsbury's - Feed your family for a fiver: how a communications idea helped Sainsbury's through the recession

Principal Author: Tom Roach – AMV BBDO
Contributing Authors: Jane Dorsett and Craig Mawdsley – AMV BBDO


This is a paper that celebrates a brilliant piece of thinking, that appears at first to be a price promotion, but is in fact so much more. With the onset of the global economic crisis Sainsbury's had a problem: the misperception that it was more expensive than other supermarkets. They created a new brand communications campaign to help bring price perceptions in line with price reality, taking simple food ideas and building an everyday low price component into them: ‘Feed your family for a fiver'. This idea built upon the brand's previously successful ‘Try something new today’ idea but encouraging customers to experiment with new recipes and products. But this time an all-important value dimension was added. Sainsbury's delivered over 50 family meal ideas in TV, press, free tip cards and online, instantly lodging in people's minds and forming a strong brand association. Over two years, the idea delivered £540m in direct sales with a payback of £5.55 profit for every £1 spent and overall helped improve Sainsbury's price perception. This case is a lesson in how to reframe a conversation with customers. Here Sainsbury's illustrated an unseen value dimension of the brand by presenting products in a fresh and customer-oriented way that proved hugely effective for the brand during the recession.