ASA rules in favour of Tesco over price comparison claims
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled in favour of Tesco after Sainsburys complained that the supermarket giant had been misleading in its Price Promise comparison claims.
Sainsbury’s had argued that the claim "You won't lose out on big brands, own-label or fresh food" was misleading in relation to own-label and fresh food as it did not take “important product attributes” such as provenance and ethics into account. The retailer also claimed that some of the products compared were not comparable and that the basis of the price match policy had not been made clear.
However, today the ASA dismissed the complaint and said in its ruling: "We considered consumers were likely to interpret the claim "You won't lose out on big brands, fresh food or own-label" as a promise to compare the cost of their shopping with Tesco to the other named retailers."
The ASA also said it considered the reference to "comparable grocery shopping" with Asda, Sainsbury's or Morrisons, in the context of that claim, would be understood as meaning that Tesco had compared brand with brand, fresh food with fresh food and Tesco's own-label products with its competitors' own-label products.
Earlier this week Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe said that Price Promise made unfair comparisons between own-label products, citing ham as an example. He said: "They are priced the same but our pork is British and Tesco's is sourced from somewhere else in the EU. They're not the same product. If there's one big lesson that we should all have learned from the horsemeat scandal, it's that customers care deeply about where their food comes from and how it is produced."
However, in a blog on Tesco’s website this morning chief marketing officer David Wood said: “The origin of a product can be important and where it is, for example Melton Mowbray pies, we compare by origin too. Where it isn’t a key factor for customers, we don’t let it stand in the way of making a common-sense comparison.”
He added: “We and others have been comparing some grocery prices for some time. The innovation is in what Price Promise compares and how it makes it effortless for customers. Comparing brands is easy but customers don’t just shop for brands, they shop for fresh food – meat, fish, fruit and vegetables - and own-brands too. Nearly half the average customer basket is made up of own-brand products. We didn’t think comparing half the basket was good enough."
In response to the ruling Sainsbury's is launching a national advertising campaign featurting the slogan "same price, different values" alongside images of its Fairtrade bananas and British-sourced ham.
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