Brand Awareness Increases as Marmite is Caught up in Tesco Pricing Row

Due to a recent turn of events, sales in Marmite have soared yet its brand reputation and image have declined.

Not due to a clever marketing campaign or a new brand strategy.  No.  The Marmite brand has seen these changes due to the recent price row between Tesco’s and their parent brand Unilever.

1) Background

Hitting the press recently has been the pricing row between Tesco and Unilever.  The row made headlines around the country and was caused after Unilever reportedly raised the price of its products by 10%.  Their reasoning it is believed, was to offset the higher cost of importing which has been caused by the weak pound, following the Brexit vote.  However, Tesco fought back and as a result the row hit the media.

24 hours after the fallout however, there has been a considerable increase in sales for one of Unilever’s brands, Marmite.


2) The media

Reported in the media was how Tesco would not “bow down” to the demands from Unilever in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Furthermore, not helping the Unilever brand, media reports also played on their profits of more than £2billion earlier this year – again building the picture with the consumer.  A large corporation making this amount of profit yet increasing household items by 10%.

The media play a huge role in a company’s communication strategy.  They help to shape how a brand is perceived in the eyes of the consumer.  As well as have the power to influence a change in brand perception at any time.


3) Brand perception

So as we see the Tesco brand image increase, the row has had a damaging affect on the Unilever brand and their products.  Most notably Marmite.

Even commenting in the House of Lords, Sir Gerald Howarth, said, “I think it will be very damaging to the reputation of Unilever if they seek to use the fall in the pound to exploit the consumer”.

However, like the Marmite brand strapline “you either love it, or hate it”.  Is it not the fact that yes people might grumble about paying more for their Marmite, but that in actual fact they would still continuing buying it because of the strength of the brand and the awareness the recent news headlines are providing?


4) The Outcome

Sales of Marmite saw an increase of £335,000.  A 61% increase, selling more than 129,000 jars across the UK’s biggest supermarkets – figures by IRI have shown.

The effect of the fallout on the brands has also been significant.  With the Marmite brand seeing a “statistically significant” decline when it comes to buzz.  Dropping 32.4 points to, 23.7 and even two weeks on, Marmite is still placed last on a list of 29 `dried ambient food` brands.  As well as purchase intent among consumers also dropping 3.9 points.


5) Making the most of a difficult situation

For all brand image and reputation do count towards building your brand.  Brand awareness is one of the strongest elements.  And with the heightened presence in the media, social sites and simple word of mouth, Marmite have enabled themselves to yes take a bit of a battering in terms of brand image, but boost themselves straight into the spotlight in terms of awareness and sales.

Marmite should now be looking at future marketing strategies and campaigns to keep the flow of sales.  But to also start building their brand reputation and image back to a positive state.

However, it does throw up the question.  Should brands focus more on awareness rather than reputation and image or should company’s look strategically at how they can achieve all?

References: Marketing WeekTelegraph
Pictures from: Marketing Week, The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Express

Amanda is a copywriter with over 10 years’ experience in the world of marketing and communications. With an effective and no nonsense approach, she can look at any challenge with a creative and can do attitude.

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