person Guy Potter access_time February 22, 2019
Christmas Supermarket Advertising

A staple of the run-up to Christmas – supermarket advertising. Eagerly awaited by all, much discussed and debated in the media and a sure sign that the festive period is on its way. 2018 was no different. The only problem was making sure that you managed to catch all the ads!

Maru/Usurv tested eight supermarket ads: Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-Op, and Waitrose a month after the festivities died down.


So, who was the winner? Well, the consumers were definitely winners. Having watched all eight in succession we can confirm that we were entertained, informed and educated.

However, if we ask 1,600 Nat Rep consumers on a range of different measures including:

  • Relevance to the respondent’s “Christmas”
  • Newness and difference to other ads
  • Likelihood that the ad would encourage the respondent to shop at the supermarket
  • Uniqueness
  • Memorability
  • Whether the ad showed that store stocks what the respondent needed

The results showed that measures were more much strongly associated with some brands than others.


Sainsbury’s advert ‘The Big Night’ directed by the director of the hit film The Greatest Showman Michael Gracey (yes really!) features 60 children performing a Christmas school play and stood out on many of the measures including being memorable, unique and different. The advert currently has over 6 million views on YouTube, a clear indication that it was a hit with the wider public as well.

Despite the success of their ad, Sainsbury’s weren’t able to convert this into Christmas sales, recording a 1.1% fall in retail sales over the period.


Aldi by comparison recorded its best ever Christmas with almost £1bn in sales during December.

Their Christmas advert scored well with Nat Rep consumers for being new and different. It featured the return of Kevin the Carrot in a Christmas fairy tale fighting to save his family from a wicked parsnip called Pascal.


Asda to a lesser extent also scored well for being different and original.

Their Christmas advert featured a winter wonderland scenario with both children and adults hurriedly returning home for Christmas. The supermarket enjoyed a boost in sales through December making it the best performing supermarket over the festive period.

Advantages of agile surveying

Our always-on, real time methodology meant that we were able to decide to do the research, find the ads, set up the survey, deploy and analyse the results all on the same day, thus practicing what we preach – “painting better pictures faster”.

For an example of the questionnaire follow the link:

The results were available showing gender, age, income, region and supermarket usage, all available online and viewable as soon as the first results were in.

Deeper analysis of each of the adverts was available using the online analysis tools making it possible to understand the nuanced findings of which ad was recalled by whose shoppers and by gender etc.

The world of research is changing (perhaps too slowly for some clients), but agile research is fast, works at the speed of modern business and is here to stay. Long live change.

To arrange a full presentation of the results please do not hesitate to be in touch.

Guy Potter is maru / usurv's head of research and clients.