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Bupa Sainsbury's Morrisons

Supermarket war ‘can’t be won just on price’ says Morrisons marketing chief as he outlines brand evolution strategy

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By Natalie Mortimer, N/A

January 9, 2015 | 4 min read

The ongoing battle between supermarkets and their discount rivals “can’t be won just on price” Nick Collard, Morrisons group marketing and customer director has said as he announced a new sponsorship of the Great North Run, in a bid to associate the brand with healthy living and fresh foods.

Speaking to The Drum on a conference call this morning, Collard said the rumoured multi million pound deal, the biggest in Morrison’s history, would help the “evolution of the brand”, in what has become an increasingly fierce competition ground.

“We’ve talked a lot about how we see ourselves as a value led grocer with a focus on fresh foods,” he commented. “Our strategy is to neutralise on price and differentiate on our proposition, but actually the market is never going to be won just on price and people, we have to have a very distinct brand. If you’ve got a brand that’s really focussed on fresh food, fresh food drives a healthy outlook and a healthy approach to life, and I think this is absolutely complementary to that.”

The four-year partnership will see the grocer sponsor all runs in the Great North Run portfolio, which includes the 10,000 Great Manchester Run and host of mini and junior events nationwide, and look to capitalise on national media coverage and in-store promotional activity.

The deal includes opportunities for Morrisons’ customers and staff to secure places across the portfolio of running events, the first of which takes place this weekend in Edinburgh.

Collard shied away from disclosing any marketing activity in detail, but revealed that alongside media advertising, and healthy eating promotions, a focus would be placed on experiential activity

“Experiential marketing is something that we’ve really tried to do more of, particularly over the last 12 months. Absolutely we think this is a prime opportunity to do more of that associated with this sponsorship. Exactly the form it will take we are still working through, but I would be really definitive and say we think that is a huge opportunity.”

Morrisons will also look to tie in the Great North run sponsorship with its ‘Let’s Grow’ initiative, similar to Sainsbury’s active kids, which aims to help schools grow their own fruit and vegetables. While no formal road map had been outlined, Collard said the programme is a “fantastic property” and an “obvious” one to tie with the sponsorship.

“We have a very successful initiative called Let’s Grow and one of the things that we’re looking at is how to tie them [the Great North Run and Let’s Grow] together. Whether we’ll be able to do that or not is still early stages but that is a really fantastic property that’s been running for many years. [It] engages school children, engages schools, engages mums and parents and that’s been great.

“It’s an obvious one for us to look at and that’s been part of our plan as we start to go through the long list of how we pull this together.”

The new sponsorship will not affected existing relationships, with activity around ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent, still planned for this year.

Morrisons succeeds Bupa as title sponsor of the Great North Run, which the insurance and health-care company had supported for 22 years.

End-of-life charity Sue Ryder will act as charity partner for all running events.

Bupa Sainsbury's Morrisons

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