Last Thursday saw our lovely Lucy make her radio debut; discussing UK-based supermarket Tesco and its latest branding faux pas. K2L were approached by the BBC who were in need of a marketing expert’s commentary and Lucy, who specialises in branding, couldn’t wait to help out. What went on? Find out all by reading below.
Some shoppers and farming groups were ‘outraged’ last week over Tesco’s ‘fictional farms’; and the rather naughty names that have recently appeared on the shop’s packaging. New brands such as Rosedene, Redmere and Boswell Farms were launched last Monday to cover Tesco’s own-label fresh produce – but it turns out these farms are in fact not farms at all; they’re fictitious.
‘Outrage’ on social media
Despite the ‘British-sounding’ farm names, many of the products have actually been sourced from abroad and shoppers are not happy. Tesco has been heavily criticised on social media with one tweet reading: “Shocking! Shoppers deserve to know where their food comes from.” But it seems opinion was divided, as many marketing experts spoken to by the BBC were backing Tesco – saying the brand’s actions simply ‘weren’t that bad.’
Maybe we’re just used to it? Knowing that, sometimes, things might not be all that they seem in the world of marketing. The BBC were obviously baffled, so they gave us a call – and Lucy went on over to explain.
Critics and angry customers accused Tesco of ‘capitalising on the UK’s affinity with farmers’. In her interview, Lucy explained that such a move from Tesco was really just an attempt at ‘quality assurance’, even if it was a little ill-advised. The source of the produce is clearly labelled so it’s unlikely that Tesco are blatantly trying to cash in on the reputation of British farmers. It’s most likely that the store is simply trying to reinforce with customers the idea that their fresh produce is up to the UK’s high standards; in this case, the standards that consumers tend to associate with UK-based farms.
Malicious move or marketing gaffe?
Okay, so it’s probably a bit of a misleading marketing gaffe, but it’s certainly not as malicious as some social media users were making out on Thursday. Lucy went on to stress that Tesco were not being deliberately deceitful.
It’s also worth pointing out that these days, it’s not uncommon for people to voice their ‘outrage’ on social media channels. Many will scream for boycotts, and it’s easy to be angry at large, faceless corporations. Although, it’s great that people have the option to use these platforms to air views and grievances, it’s probably unlikely that they genuinely won’t ever set foot in a Tesco again.
Professor David Hughes from Imperial College London is an expert on food marketing who agreed, saying; “I don’t think it is particularly insidious and I don’t think it is done maliciously. It’s probably a marketing mistake.”
Not the only perpetrators…
In a statement, Tesco said “We’ve named the brands after farms to represent the quality specifications that go into every product across the range. Every product is sourced from a selection of farms and growers – some are small, family-run farms while others are of a larger scale – reared or grown to our specific standards from known and audited farms and growers.”
Although the BBC kept her clip short and sweet, we think Lucy did brilliantly. Next stop, the BBC Breakfast sofa – just across the river at the Salford Quays studio!
As for ‘fictional-farm gate’, Tesco isn’t alone. Many brands seems to get caught in the murky waters of misleading marketing – for example, Aldi also uses its own ‘fake farm’– otherwise known as the Ashfield Farm brand. So that’s one to bear in mind, for anyone planning a boycott…
But what do you think? Are you outraged by such shamelessly ‘misleading marketing’? Or do you barely pay attention to the produce and its branding? Let us know on social, @K2LMarketing or www.facebook.com/K2LMarketing.