Sainsbury’s is to appeal a decision from the UK’s advertising watchdog to dismiss the retailer’s complaint about Tesco‘s Price Promise comparison scheme.
The Advertising Standards Authority threw out a claim from Sainsbury’s that Tesco’s initiative was unfair for comparing own-label products.
just-food understands Sainsbury’s plans to contact the ASA’s independent reviewer this week and could also take its case to a judicial review.
Sainsbury’s claimed it was unfair for Tesco to compare prices on private-label lines as its own-label lines are better in quality and of “greater provenance”. The UK’s third-largest grocer argues consumers do not just consider price when shopping and insisted, for example, own-label lines sourced from different countries should not be able to compared.
However, in its ruling, the ASA said the “basis” of Tesco’s comparisons was “clear” and did not breach regulations.
The ASA said Tesco had sought to identify if “non-price elements” would affect a consumer’s purchase and excluded products from the comparison if the factor was “significant and likely to affect a customer’s decision”.
The regulator said Sainsbury’s was concerned own label and fresh food could not be compared because of a difference in quality. However, the ASA said the small print of Tesco’s ads said some products would be excluded and the retailer had not compared some lines for that reason.
The watchdog said Tesco had met stipulations in the UK’s advertising code that advertisers should only compare goods that met the “same need”.
Sainsbury’s responded to the ASA ruling by using press ads to emphasise what it sees as the difference between the two retailers’ own-label lines. The ads carried the tagline “same price, different values” and compared the grocers’ private-label ham and bananas.
Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s commercial director, also claimed the ASA ruling would mean it would be harder for consumers to make “informed choices“.
Reflecting on the ASA ruling, Tesco’s UK marketing director David Wood said the UK’s largest retailer was “delighted” with the ruling.
“Price Promise is very simple, but it is very powerful. It tells customers they don’t need to worry about price because we’ve got it covered,” Wood said.