Over the past year or so, all the major supermarkets in the UK have started to explicitly compete with each other's pricing, with the idea of reinforcing to the public how much cheaper they are than other supermarkets, and therefore we should all be shopping with them. Here are just a few of the many examples of this sort of competition being used in their advertising campaigns. These sorts of competitive adverts have used on TV adverts, billboards, newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and as part of the shopping experience itself.
The supermarkets have even diverged from their unique slogans that they had been using for years, and adopting new slogans designed to explicitly compete with the other supermarkets. For instance, there is the Sainsburys brand match, the Asda price guarantee, the Morrisons match and more, and the Tesco Price promise. All of these slogans are now being used in their advertising campaigns.
These advertising campaigns are a classic example of the competition template; one of the fundamental advertising templates identified by Goldenburg, Mazursky, and Solomon (1999). This template advertises a product by subjecting the product to competition with another product or an event from a different class. There are three versions of this template: the attribute in competition version, the worth in competition version, and the uncommon use version. The difference between the first two version is whether the competition is related to a product attribute (i.e. the quality) or whether it challenges the worth of the product (i.e. its price). In the uncommon-use version, the idea of the template is to emphasis a product attribute by applying it to solve a problem in a context totally different to its intended use, but which shows the superiority of the attribute (i.e. using a pair of jeans to tow a car to emphasise strength).
It is clear that the supermarkets are using this advertising template in their advertising campaigns, as they are directly competing their own prices with their competitors prices. More specifically, they are using the worth in competition version, as they are comparing the value of their products to the value of their competitors products. However, the supermarkets go beyond using this template for a simple TV advert, and have embraced the competition throughout their marketing strategy, by, for example, giving customers money off coupons if their shopping would have been cheaper at one of their competitors.
Whilst this advertising template is generally effective, one has to wonder whether it is effective when all the competing supermarkets adopt the same strategy!
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.