From running shops to serving customers: The Tesco turnaround story

IPA Effectiveness Awards Case Study 2020

This paper details the Tesco turnaround from 2015 when it reported a historic loss and declining brand trust. Consumer perceptions of the supermarket’s value for money and quality had fallen sharply, along with willingness to recommend it. Tesco adopted a new purpose, ‘Serving Britain’s Shoppers a little Better Every Day’, and other changes to make it more customer-led. Media was re-balanced and given new investment. Creative, often featuring Tesco colleagues, focused on communicating helpfulness and stories about quality food. Innovations included Tesco Clubcard Plus, a subscription service. It is estimated the marketing contributed £4.3bn in incremental revenue in 2015-19.

Click to purchase this case study >

This IPA paper has both confirmed and enhanced our understanding of the role of marketing and communications in building both business and brand. More explicitly, as we develop the plan for the next five years there are three fundamental pieces of learning that we will take forward: - Serving Customers. This is the overall focus of the paper and the thinking has helped us put the customer at the heart of marketing in terms of messaging, targeting, media selections and product development. - Get the fundamentals right. Bringing clarity to the drivers of the business, installing both long- and short-term objectives, bringing media and creative together, and understanding the importance of both short and medium terms results, are all well understood building blocks. However, it’s easy to lose sight of them when caught in the frantic day-to-day. Building this solid foundation gives us the time, head space and guidance with decision-making. - Differentiation. This paper has shown how much can change in both the market and fortune in a short space of time. By shining a light on our strengths and weaknesses with customers, and amongst our competitor set, we have more insight to guide how we differentiate. And, in doing so, ensuring that we actively differentiate rather than waiting for the market to move around us. Marketing has always had a clear and strong role within the Tesco business and now, with the 2020 IPA Paper, we have even more evidence to ensure that it remains a vital tool in serving our customers a little better every day.

Nick Ashley, Head of Media and Campaign Planning

Winners 2020

Grand Prix

Gold Winner


From running shops to serving customers: The Tesco turnaround story







Principal Authors

  • Simon Gregory - BBH
  • James Parnum - MediaCom

Contributing Authors

  • Kevin Fitzgibbon - MediaCom - Business Science
  • Nick Ashley - Tesco

Credited Companies

  • MediaCom - Business Science - Econometrics

< Back to entries