Tesco's top marketer on tapping clean eating culture for its most concerted effort yet to promote health credentials

Tesco

Tesco has partnered with self-described ‘plant-pushing’ chef Derek Sarno as part of its most concerted effort yet to encourage shoppers to make healthier food choices.

Sarno is co-founder of Wicked Healthy, a company which promotes an 80/20 diet – “Shoot for 80% healthy, 20% wicked and you’ll be 100% sexy” its website proclaims. Though not as prescriptive as the ‘Deliciously Ella’ inspired branch of clean-eating, Tesco’s partnership with the American chef is nonetheless tapping into the trend as the supermarket looks to make good on promises to promote healthier food choices among its shoppers.

Running within the framework of the retailer's ‘Food Love Stories’ activity, Sarno will showcase recipes such as his 'barbeque mushroom burger' in an attempt to highlight what people can do with the fresh produce. Other executions will feature regular people creating their own healthy recipes, such as ‘Ali’s citrus salmon’.

The TV push will be supported by a investment into social, digital, and out-of-home marketing, making it Tesco's first fully-integrated campaign to focus on healthy eating.

Since consumer group Which? blasted supermarkets for not doing enough to encourage healthy eating in 2012 – while also revealing that 39% of people believe they should be doing more – Tesco has introduced initiatives such as free fruit for kids in-store as well as reformulating two-thirds of its own-brand products to reduce sugar, fat and salt. It was also the first supermarket to meet government set ratios of sugar in soft-drinks.

But for all these initiatives, Tesco’s chief customer officer admitted there was still confusion amongst its shoppers over healthy eating and the belief that doing so was more expensive.

“Tesco has worked on health for many years but what we discovered is that the biggest help customers needed was around healthier eating,” Alessanda Bellini told The Drum.

“As the country’s largest green grocer, we had the opportunity to bring all of the initiatives and new brands together to see if we could have an impact.”

The wider ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign is Tesco’s biggest concerted effort to date to drive home the message of healthy eating. Beyond the advertising push, for the coming month Tesco will use in-store collateral to highlight “helpful little swaps” for products high in sugar, fat or salt as well as lower prices on fresh products.

It will also put fresh fruit at the checkout so customers can easily add a piece to their shopping and offer in-store health checks in partnership with Diabetes UK and British Heart Foundation.

“We’re not about telling customer what to do,” added Bellini. “We’re about helping them understand the choices they should make.”

This will serve as a test-bed for how Tesco will talk to customers about healthy eating throughout the year.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is Brands Editor at The Drum. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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