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Sainsbury’s idiotic survey scores own goal

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Sainsbury's shopper (image from Sainsbury's Media Toolkit)Sainsbury’s PR operation tweeted today that it had become the UK’s second biggest online food retailer, with 165,000 orders per week. I thought, “Wow, that’s impressive, it must have beaten Asda into third place!”

To confirm this thought, I clicked through to their full PR puff piece. This is one of the worst bits of PR guff I have read to date.

It starts off by reporting the genuinely impressive news of 20% year-on-year online sales growth – no mean feat in a recession – and it’s impressive position as second in a hyper-competitive marketplace. Fantastic.

But, before the end of the second paragraph, it goes off on an utterly ludicrous tangent, and starts talking about a meaningless customer service survey. Sainsbury’s has commissioned MORI to poll people on the supermarket whose customer service they prefer, and they happily report that Sainsbury’s comes out on top.

But the sample is patently absurd: 912 Sainsbury’s shoppers, 400 Tesco shoppers, 400 Asda shoppers, and 200 Ocado shoppers. It doesn’t take a much of a leap to assume that most people will shop at the supermarket they prefer, so it would’ve been frankly astonishing if survey of a group constituted of mainly Sainsbury’s shoppers didn’t rank Sainsbury’s highest on a number of cherry-picked metrics. Equally unsurprising is the news that Ocado, with the smallest number of customers in the survey, comes bottom on each metric.

Of course, this is the sort of nonsense psuedo-science that PR offices pump out daily, and there are countless examples of the form. But the point here is that Sainsbury’s PR have managed to lump together some genuinely impressive figures with some unimpressive crap, and actually left me feeling less positive about the brand. This story is newsworthy without the tacked-on nonsense, which adds nothing to genuinely contextualise the results, and actually detracts from the key message.

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