Wednesday, February 25, 2009

British Retailers - A nation of shopkeepers

Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy's CEO, recently said that Tesco overerstimated the power of retail brands in the US when they launched. "There's less loyalty in the American market. A Brit has to hear it a few times before you accept that people make up their mind where to go each week when they check out the special offers round the kitchen table."

This doesn't surprise me. American retail brands have always been hampered by fragmentation of the market. And by the fact that their owners didn't see them as brands. Hence the surprise at the recent growth of private label brands - a development that is well advanced in Europe - where a store brand is often seen as superior to a national brand.

I have worked for French, British, Canadian and American retailers (including Tesco) and the Brits are always more likely to see their store as a brand and employ brand marketing thinking to promote it. A nation of shopkeepers indeed. Tesco were probably among the most advanced. No surprise that they misread the American market.

Tesco is now backtracking on those statements.

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