Tesco’s pre-launch market research for its US ‘Fresh & Easy’ stores missed vital clues about purchasing decisions Stateside, its boss has told UK paper The Sunday Times.
Tim Mason, head of Tesco’s US business, told www.timesonline.co.uk
the firm’s early market research came up short. ‘We may have assumed that certain elements of the Fresh & Easy brand would do the work for us and we would not have to go down and dirty on price. That may have been a mistake.’
Much was made of the gap in the West coast market identified by the research, conducted before the launch in November 2007. Marketing Director Simon Uwins said: ‘We went into people’s houses, talked to them about food and food shopping. We went into their kitchens and poked round pantries.’ But, notes the paper, ‘Mason now admits, they did not poke around their garages, where they would have found huge freezer chests bulging with stockpiled meat bought on special offer.’
The US roll-out has been delayed, with the recession now blamed: there are currently 113 Fresh & Easy outlets and plans to increase this to 200 have been put back at least six months. The new stores may be radically changed, and the marketing approach is likely to be, following focus group revelations about discount-hunting American shoppers. Says Mason: ‘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.’