In 2024, Sainsbury’s boss Simon Roberts doubled down on his ‘food first’ strategy and outlined a host of new promises to enhance the customer experience. Put yourself in the position of a loyal Sainsbury’s shopper, how will these promises impact your shop three years into the future?
Picture this: the year is 2027 and you’re a little bit older than you are now. Prime minister Keir Starmer and leader of the opposition Suella Braverman are still clashing over immigration and ignoring the drip-feed fallout from Brexit.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, President Trump is issuing executive orders from his ‘Winter White House’ under house arrest. World leaders keep talking a lot about the environment while continuing to hand out new deep-sea oil and natural gas mining licenses.
It’s a Saturday morning in early spring and you’ve got friends coming over later. The kids are about to go back to school after the Easter break. Summer is coming and you’re thinking about what to wear on your holiday.
Three years ago, Sainsbury’s boss Simon Roberts promised you, as part of his ‘Next Level’ strategy, the grocer’s full range in more places, better rewards for being a loyal member, more targeted general merchandise and clothing offerings, and more investment into technology and automation.
How does it shape your shopping experience?
Lead the charge
With your shopping list on your phone, you jump into your fully electric car. You’ve been thinking about buying one for years but now, with more supermarkets offering hundreds of fast charging points in more locations, you’ve finally taken the plunge.
Sainsbury’s has invested £70m in its electric charging infrastructure and now offers superfast charging in nearly 100 locations and luckily, your local supermarket is one.
You forgot to charge the car overnight but the 30 minutes it’ll take to fill your battery should give you plenty of time to get everything you need for the rest of the weekend. If you finish your shopping early, you can always check the charger’s progress on your phone.
You’re still pushing a trolley in 2027 but, on the plus side, you can now get everything you need in one shop, rather than having to spend time doing multiple top-up shops.
Over the last few years, Sainsbury’s has been investing steadily in the layout of some of its supermarkets. While you haven’t particularly noticed one freezer moving here, or an aisle or two of Tu clothing disappearing there, you look around today and realise there’s a lot of food to choose from.
And it really is a lot. A further 180 supermarkets across the UK now offer Sainsbury’s full 30,000-plus food range. There also seems to be more own-brand and Taste the Difference ranges, too.
The same is true at the new Sainsbury’s Local that has opened near your office – one of 75 additional convenience stores that have opened over the last three years.
Sainsbury’s has been keeping abreast of the latest food trends. Korean superfoods still seem popular. To your relief, it seems that while the range of alternative meat-free proteins for your teenagers keeps growing, you’ve yet to resort to buying the BBQ flavour crickets.
Sweet Nectar prices
A few years ago, it felt like you were leaving money on the table if you went to shop just about anywhere without a loyalty card. Your mobile phone wallet was full to bursting with them all and it was hard to keep track of which one was which.
While the economic picture isn’t quite as bleak as it was during the 2023/24 cost-of-living crisis, thousands of items across the food range are still available on Nectar Prices. You’ve been saving on average £12 a week on a full £80 shop in recent years using the loyalty scheme and the savings are still much better than if you weren’t a member.
Beyond the savings, the Nectar app is useful for tracking your purchases and presenting personalised offers on some of the products that you and the family can’t seem to live without.
It also takes away the monotony of coming up with new dinners each week by suggesting recipes using items you’ve not tried before.
You’ve got all the food and drink you need now, but your phone tells you you’ve still got 10 minutes of charging time on the EV.
That’s plenty of time for you to collect the new PlayStation 6 you’ve just bought for the kids. You do spoil them, but you justify it by thinking you might get a bit of use out of it yourself. The app tried to convince you to buy the latest Call of Duty and a new controller to go with it but you’re not made of money.
On the way, you spy the Tu aisles and decide to check them out first. You’re surprised that there are a couple of staff members on hand to ask if you need help with anything.
With more floor space given over to food and more availability, it seems they spend less of their time replenishing stock, so can help you pick out a new pair of trousers and sunglasses you hope you might get some use out of before the weekend is over.
This is a vision of how Simon Roberts sees Sainsbury’s operating in the future. In the present, the first three years of his ‘food first’ shift has led to Sainsbury’s growing its sales and its market share.
Forecast data from Retail Navigator by Lumina Intelligence shows that ‘Next Level’ Sainsbury’s is on track to deliver 4.2% growth in sales to £38.7bn by 2027.