Waitrose – essential Waitrose

Principal Authors: Andy Nairn and Matt Wyatt – MCBD
Contributing Authors: Anders Iversen and Wanda Wilsher – BrandScience


It is not possible to discuss marketing in this last recession without mentioning Waitrose. Whilst many retail brands (featured elsewhere in this body of work) delivered a strong response to changing consumer needs, Waitrose stands out as a brand that had a smaller, loyal customer base who had fierce emotional ties to the brand; conversely they had much to lose if it got its offering or communications wrong. Waitrose had been enjoying strong growth until the recession arrived in 2008: as a premium retailer, but as a mid-sized premium retailer its prospects looked bleak. However, the introduction of 1,200 own label products under a new brand, ‘essential Waitrose', and a significant commitment to communications, the retailer ended 2009 as the UK's fastest growing supermarket. It is estimated the launch of ‘essentials’ contributed £121m of incremental growth in 2009, with an impressive ROMI of c.16.8:1.