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Tesco and the Art of Sophistry

Neil explains why Tesco has been forced onto the back foot once again.

Giddy from turning one of the biggest corporate losses (financial and reputational) into a piffling profit, Tesco have been forced onto the back foot again.

Product BrandingThis time, it’s not for bullying suppliers, it’s for their totally fictitious food branding antics.  Or to be absolutely precise, it’s their patronising, specious and dismissive reasoning for launching a totally misleading range of meat and poultry brands.

Having created a set of made-up farm names with suitably rustic branding – local butcher meets local farm sort of thing – Tesco are now claiming that consumers are far too savvy to be taken in. I don’t think so – they look pretty convincing to me. They are absolutely and cynically designed to look like the sort of locally reared, rare breed, accredited, free range produce with welfare and provenance credentials to die for – exactly what your inner foodie craves for.

As Tesco themselves point out, nobody could truly believe that one local farm could supply all Tesco stores. Well, I beg to differ – I think Tesco customers would willingly buy into the messages and stories the labels have been so masterfully manipulated to convey. And if it’s so obvious that’s the game – why do it? Very few Tesco customers venture into stores other than than their one local store – particularly ones far from home. It would be all too easy to come to the conclusion that Tesco want us to – namely that it’s local produce.

Last time I looked, branding was in part about portraying the soul and individuality of a product. Possibly with a bit of heritage and a few aspirational cues in the mix.

Labelling any old mass-farmed meat as if it’s some kind of milk-fed miracle, bred by hand, reared by a ruddy faced family of hill farmers just a few miles up the road is just deceitful.

Image courtesy of Chris Warham.

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