Now that the official 100 day countdown until the London 2012 Olympics is well and truly underway, Steve Smith explores which supermarket is likely to benefit most from London 2012.

All supermarkets are in a battle for shoppers and their consumer spend. We’ve taken a look at this in detail and in the context of which supermarket is best positioned to capitalise on London 2012 and the summer’s sporting excitement.

Using Kantar’s TGI data, we have analysed people who shop at the top seven supermarkets. We have divided these shoppers between regions, and between light, medium and heavy shoppers to ascertain which regions should supermarkets concentrate on in their marketing, and which supermarkets are susceptible to poaching by other supermarkets.

During this analysis, we have created Olympic Shopper Scores for each of the supermarkets where the higher the score, the greater the likelihood for that supermarket’s customers to celebrate the Olympics this year. In simple terms the higher the score, the greater the opportunity for that supermarket to cash in on the Olympics from its customer base.

In our study, Waitrose wins Gold by a whisker. Out of all the supermarkets, Waitrose customers are most likely to celebrate the London Olympics and therefore the store is best positioned to profit from the event. Sainsbury’s wins Silver, with its customers being slightly less likely to celebrate the Olympics, and Tesco’s follows with bronze.

Regional variations

However, there are significant regional variations of these findings. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose success will draw primarily from its shoppers in their heartlands of London and the South East - the areas most associated with the games. Morrisons and ASDA will have to work hard at taking advantage of the Olympics across all regions they operate in as can be seen in the following chart.

Where the story gets even more interesting is where the opportunities are for supermarkets to poach customers from other supermarkets, by promoting their own unique celebration of London 2012.

  • In London and the South East, opportunities lay with Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S to poach from each other. The greatest opportunities are for Tesco. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s need to work especially hard to protect their shoppers from poaching.
  • In the North and Midlands, opportunities exist for Co-Op, ASDA and Morrisons to poach from each other. Each needs to make sure it protects its shoppers, especially ASDA and Morrisons.

Spend levels

Supermarkets whose customers are most likely to celebrate the Olympics are most likely to see upsurges in spend on food and drink. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are likely to benefit significantly across all spend levels in London and the South East. Waitrose is also likely to benefit from its core Olympic followers in Wales and the South West. Wales and the South West will be the focus of success for Tesco, although Britain’s biggest supermarket is also likely to benefit from its high spenders in London and the South East.

The challenge for ASDA and Morrisons is to rouse excitement about London 2012, as their customers are least likely to celebrate the Olympics this year. As things stand, any success they are likely to have is restricted to the north. However, other research carried out in our SupermarketUK study shows that sharing experiences with friends and family is especially important to ASDA and Morrisons’ shoppers. If both these supermarkets work hard at focusing marketing messages upon people coming together to enjoy the Games, they could drastically improve their performance and even move into the medals table.

  • Steve Smith, Head of Thought Leadership at Starcom MediaVest Group