Engaging a workforce, and a nation

The Challenge

Sainsbury’s and the supermarket category is enduring numerous forces: price shocks from discounters, the rise of Amazon, high-spending brands and a weak pound-pinching margin. There was a need for a step change in how digital delivered value to the business, to both recruit new customers and engage its workforce.

Sainsbury's has over 37 million customers and 182 thousand colleagues. Gravity Road has worked hand-in-hand with clients to move away from a ‘product merchandising’ approach to digital. There is now a clear role for integrated digital comms: to demonstrate and build a human connection between company, customers and staff.

The objectives were as follows:

- Increase brand recall content that cut through, ideally at a similar level as TV

- Increase the perception metric: “Sainsbury’s is a place where I get a human connection”

- Increase staff engagement measures

- Increase groceries online shoppers

The Solution 

The 'Living Well Projects' is a 12 month program of digital initiatives that show the positive impact and consideration that Sainsbury's has for its community and colleagues.

After working with the brand for six years we knew that both consumer & colleague experiences of Sainsbury’s are intertwined, and that we would have to take both on a ‘Living Well' journey to shift behaviour and perception. Our journey mapped to a typical colleague’s weekly supermarket experience, and necessitated some significant shifts in what was featured in Sainsbury’s digital work.

From                                  To

Sainsbury’s Stores             Living Well by serving the community

Sainsbury’s Products         Living Well by elevating the colleagues at Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s Delivery          Living Well by helping people with onerous shopping missions

Sainsbury’s Staff Tour        Living Well by helping colleagues with life problems

We also used staff engagement ‘owned’ channels such as training sessions, internal emails, the intranet and TVs in the staff communal areas to convey our message.

There was a significant element of being ‘overheard’ by the broader community, but this meant doing it in a manner which felt natural - we didn’t want to be seen to be exploiting our people for broader gain. So that meant timing, and creating our activity around ‘moments’ and real stories. The moments included Mother’s Day - an occasion important to colleagues and customers alike. ‘Real stories’ were sourced from Sainsbury’s internal comms channels; our emphasis was ‘find the people with the story and give their story some sparkle’ rather than the typical ‘write a story and find some people to be in it.’

The Results

We are unable to share figures due to client governance policies. What we can share is that our work has garnered the following against the objectives:

Brand recall: significantly higher than Sainsbury’s & category benchmark for all media. Meaning that digital work was cutting through on a par with TV.

Increase the perception metric of “Sainsbury’s is a place where I get a human connection” - double digit growth for those exposed to content.

Increase staff engagement measures: staff content received 400% higher engagement

Increase groceries online shoppers: significant volume in incremental shoppers, but also shoppers of a higher basket value - demonstrating that the ‘human-centric’ approach drove a more engaged consumer.


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Gravity Road

020 3950 7568