Sainsbury's flexes its muscles

Sainsbury's has opened a new offensive in its ongoing war with Tesco and Asda by launching a trial of a new initiative 'Brand Match' to shoppers, a promise to refund the difference of branded groceries if a customer can buy them cheaper at Tesco or Asda.

The competition is rife between the three supermarkets, with Tesco and Asda launching their own internet-based price-check services last year. But Sainsbury's thinks it will steal a march with the 'Brand Match' price promise, as their is no need to go online to collect a voucher as it would be generated at the checkout.

'Shoppers don't want to spend time constantly checking prices or logging on to a computer to print out a coupon at home. We're doing the maths and the work so they don't have to,' said Sainsbury's group commercial director Mike Coupe.

Sainsbury's has pledged to rely on 'independent' price data and to take into account rivals' special offers. 'If your basket of branded goods is cheaper at Tesco or Asda, the Sainsbury's brand match technology allows us to issue a coupon for the difference immediately,' Coupe said.

The new initiative is to be tested at a dozen Sainsbury's stores in Northern Ireland, starting on Wednesday. In order to qualify, customers must spend at least £20, which is also the limit for maximum refunds.

Kantar director of retail insights Bryan Roberts praised the 'immediacy' of Sainsbury's scheme, as it requires 'zero effort' from shoppers. 'They are probably aware that they could get better value from Asda but prefer Sainsbury's for other reasons,' he said. 'This will help them to attract new shoppers while rewarding loyalists.'

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