Assessing the Waitrose Brand
Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.
Waitrose aims for the convenience of a supermarket and the expertise and service of a specialist shop, with an emphasis on quality and freshness. By and large this is achieved. Waitrose, if anything, stands for reliability. The product range rarely changes, the shelves are usually full and the product quality is consistent. To some it is expensive but it appeals to middle Britain, catering very well for a specific segment of the market.
Like John Lewis it is clean and efficient with clear product displays. It also has a reputation for good service. The service is not, however, particularly different from other supermarkets (except that the staff turnover is much lower). The lack of promotions provides a consistent if unexciting visit, but the ‘gentle’ atmosphere may compensate for this.
Although the non-food range is sparse, unlike M&S there is a complete enough range for a weekly food shop. The quality is usually very good, especially the fresh food which is considerably better in quality than that of competitors. The healthy ‘Perfectly Balanced’ range is particularly strong too. Own brand can vary but the main concern is value. Waitrose is more expensive than competitors, but as other supermarkets catch up on quality and introduce new ranges, the price differential remains high.
The product range would benefit from more affordable family products to enable those with families to complete their weekly shop. It may also be time for non-food items to be introduced.
Value Positioning ***
Value at Waitrose comes as affordable quality rather than as Every Day Low Pricing, so while you pay more, the quality is better. This does not of course follow for packaged goods, but the typical Waitrose shopper may be willing to pay a small premium in return for what they may feel is a better environment than other supermarkets.
Although Waitrose has expanded, it remains weak in certain areas of the country (the North, Wales, Scotland etc). Its strongest area is the South of England.
1. Ensure the service experience is noticeably better than other supermarkets.
2. More own brand products to further increase value for money.
3. Introduce more affordable family treats to enhance overall range.
4. Introduce some of the best John Lewis non-food deals.
5. Continue to open more stores, particularly in the major urban areas.