By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

May 22, 2023 | 7 min read

Morrisons is no longer in the big top four UK grocers and after a controversial US buyout has been hemorrhaging cash. Can its revived brand platform and loyalty scheme get it out of trouble?

After testing its existing brand assets, Morrisons has revived the ‘More Reasons to Shop at Morrisons’ strapline under a new brand platform and a reworked jingle. The strapline was last used in 2006, but research found it still resonated with customers and the jingle showed high levels of brand recall and salience.

Rachel Eyre who is chief customer and marketing officer at Morrisons said the new platform has “marketing effectiveness front and center throughout the whole planning and development process, across creative and media.”

The UK grocer’s newly appointed agency Leo Burnett is behind the work which also includes a modernizing of the Morrisons’s green and yellow colors and its tree logo. To launch the platform and new look Morrisons has released a series of 20-second vox-pop style ads with customers saying their reason for shopping at Morrisons.

The ads dropped on Friday (May 19) during ITV’s Coronation Street and were followed by advertising takeovers on The Global Traffic Network and The Daily Mail which aimed to reach half the UK population in the first 24 hours. Wavemaker led the planning and buying of Morrisons media which includes TV, radio, press, digital display, social media and out-of-home.

The campaign comes after the supermarket chain reported losses of £1.5bn in 2022 just a year after it was acquired by US company Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R) for £7bn. While many of its challenges can be attributed to disruption from its acquisition, it’s clear Morrisons’s marketing team has got a big job on its hands to recover the brand's perception among consumers.

According to YouGov, the retailer’s buzz score (whether someone has heard something positive or negative about the brand) is on the floor. It dropped from nine points in 2018 to 3.2 last week. Its value score also fell from 19.6 to 14 and its brand index slightly dipped from 23.8 to 20.

As a much-loved legacy brand, the industry will be hoping this latest marketing push is enough to turn around the business. In March, The Drum spoke to Catherine Shuttleworth, chief exec at retail consultancy Savvy and who previously Morrisons among one of the clients previously on its books. She said that Morrisons was no longer “present” with above-the-line advertising, compared to competitors, and when it is doing a comms push that work is “vanilla”.

“Morrisons has always been the home of great prices and great value, but it’s lost its rhythm from a communications perspective on talking about those two things,” she said at the time.

Despite its marketing becoming a "bit confused and difficult to find", Shuttleworth believes with a strong integrated price campaign Morrisons could overcome some of its recent challenges.

“Good retail marketing starts above the line and then runs through every single touch point for the shopper and reminds you why you should shop there. And that is where Morrisons doesn’t have a clear thread that runs through the marketing activity,” Shuttleworth says.

There have been significant changes in the marketing department at Morrisons which would have impacted its marketing output. The team is currently headed up by chief customer and marketing officer Eyre who was brought over from Sainsbury’s in April 2021. But veteran senior leaders like former customer and community director Rebecca Singleton exited the business after eight years and group commercial director Andy Atkinson left after a decade.

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Morrisons’s More Card

Promoting Morrisons’s revamped More Card loyalty program is a key part of the campaign. The Morrisons More scheme will be trialed in 20 stores in the North East before a full rollout this summer and sees the reintroduction of a physical loyalty card. More card compares offers loyalty card-only discounts similar to Tesco's Clubcard scheme.

But Jemima Bird, chief exec and founder of Hello Finch, says the retailer is too focused on price matching the competition. “Chasing down what price Aldi are selling baked beans for has left them searching for why they were different in the first place,” she says. “Stop trying to be one of the Big 4 by trying to outplay the competition on price and just focus on the things that got them there in the first place.”

Playing the heritage card

As consumers seek trustworthy brands Morrisons has an advantage, Michelle Whelan, co-chief exec at VMLY&R UK and chief exec at VMLY&R Commerce UK explains. “Brands that marry purpose to growth, continue to build brand equity through hard times, and engage with people in moments that matter will win through,” Whelan says.

Whelan says the retailer needs to emphasize that it produces its own goods. “From market stall to superstore, Morrisons is known as the family-owned supermarket chain that produces much of its own produce with Market Street counters and specialists on hand to help people with shopping choices – a brilliant point of differentiation,” she says.

Morrisons has a “winning heritage card to play”, Whelan concludes. “As a proud Yorkshire food retailer now nationwide with over 100 years of supermarket experience.”

Brand Strategy Morrisons Supermarkets

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