Jamie Oliver in Boots – And then he rolled over

It was a good effort, but for me was doomed from the start. Jamie Oliver in Boots. More about volume than brand alignment.

It’s a bit like Asda selling Bose, Bentley or maybe a premium food range by Heston Blumenthal. The brands just don’t connect and their audiences have almost no overlap, so they are doomed to fail from the start. The danger for the premium brand is that it becomes tarnished by hanging out with the cheaper one.

A while ago I predicted they would need to include it in the Boots meal deal for it to succeed. And then more recently, they blinked and made a mini meal deal with an alignment with Innocent – which was a good thing.

And now they have gone one better (cheaper) again and made a real meal deal with a drink and a snack for the fixed price of £4.95. This is almost as cheap as some of the sandwiches on their own. It may be a last roll (or salad) of the dice, but it does feel like an important price point to have ducked under and for me is now far more likely to succeed. What it will do for the long term brand equity of Jamie Oliver is less sure, but it’s a step downwards that will be very hard to recover from.

Jamies does (cheap) lunch via the meal deal at Boots
Jamies does (cheap) lunch via the meal deal at Boots

Thanks for the picture Leo.

Jamie Oliver in Boots – The other guy blinked

 Jamie Oliver in Boots - A sort of meal deal with Innocent
Jamie Oliver in Boots – A sort of meal deal with Innocent

I have written about Jamie Oliver in Boots a few times and the brand asking to extend the lunch price from £3.29 to nearer £7.00. A lovely idea, but unlikely in practice.

As much as I wanted to try it, I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy the sandwiches. Call it mental block or sheer tightwaddiness, But finally, the other guy blinked and they have added the whole Jame Oliver range into a form of meal deal. It’s not within the full £3.29 spectacular, but rather a £4 partnership with Innocent.

This is quite clever. Brands hang out with brands that work for them and make each other look good. By sharing the deal, the two brands feed off each other and may both benefit.

So, I bought one. A ‘Proper Salmon Sarnie’ and I have to admit it was up there with the nicest sandwiches I have ever had from a supermarket. Certainly equal to the taste of the ‘Taste the Difference’ sandwiches in Sainsbury’s, which are part of their £3 meal deal.

So, maybe there’s hope for the range yet.

Jamie Oliver in Boots – Two brands that don’t work together

I quite like Jamie Oliver and I quite like Boots. I sometime pop into the latter for a cheap meal deal and something to make me look less old or ugly. BUt I don’t think they are brands that sit well together. As i’ve said before, brands work well together when they approach similar audiences who share a close match when you overlay their combined values. This isn’t the case with Boots and Jamie.

And I have some evidence to prove it.

Jamie Oliver and his so far unsuccessful assault on Boots lunch time audience

If you look at these two shelves side by side the one on the right is the normal Boots meal deal fare. £3.29 for sandwich, drink and crisps. On the left is Jamie’s good work. Sandwiches (which look lovely) starting at £3.70 and specifically excluded from the meal deal. By the time you add crisps and a decent smoothie you are at £6 or nearly double their normal price. 50p off isn’t going to impress or influence anyone.

As you can see one gondola is very full and one is very empty. That shot was at 14.45 today, so very little else will sell today.

Now, I don’t consider myself a tightwad in the lunch department, but this is a big step up in price for Boots customers. Too big. In Waitrose it may work, but not here.

This range will have to be included in the meal deal  – even with a small price premium – or it will fail fast.

It’s not because the sandwiches are bad or the retailer is at fault. It’s just that there is nowhere near enough overlay in the values.

The promo video

This is what Jamie Oliver said before the launch.

I genuinely believe he is passionate about the product, but sadly unless there is a fundamental shift in Boots customers’ buying behaviour, it will be in the meal deal and dumbed down to meet the price point, or  sadly it will fail.

Update 25.10.12

I went in again today at 17.05 to see how it was getting on today. The picture still doesn’t lie. There is an enormous amount left in Jamie’s stand and far less in the one on the right. It looks more even because the standard one has been re-merchandised to bring the remaining stock forward. And of course, we don’t know whether they had a jamie delivery overnight and how much will have to be thrown away.

Jamie Oliver's lunch in Boots - Stlll not really selling very many sandwiches
Jamie Oliver’s lunch in Boots – Stlll not really selling very many sandwiches

Christmas shopping – Online shopping

I may not be that normal in many respects, but I do often get onto trends quite early and this year, I have shopped for Christmas differently to any other year before – and I think shopping may never be the same again.

I’ve written lots about the perfect economy, price driven shopping and how branding can help build differentiation. I’ve even written about online/offline price matching but this year it all clicked into place and a few online retailers got all my business.

Some examples.

Fifa 11. RRP £52 HMV high street price £39.99. Game High Street Price £39.99. Amazon price £24.91 delivered. Using the Red Laser App on my phone, I actually bought it on my Amazon account on my phone standing in HMV. I hope Red Laser are taking a commission.


Morse the Complete Collection. RRP £199.99 (yeah right!) Morrisons £50. Amazon price £34.97 delivered. Again, bought standing in Morrisons.

And I bought from Boots, Tesco, Dixons and a few others too. All turned up in plenty of time and I saved a small fortune without having to brave the ridiculous queues at the tills in the stores. There must have been 50 people queuing in the unsurprisingly poor performing HMV. They are playing into the hands of online retailers.

Again, I don’t think i’m particularly tight, but I can see no reason at all to pay more for an identical product and the privilige of buying on the high street.

If the high street doesn’t just want to become a gigantic Amazon showroom, it needs to find a way of reflecting the price of the online retailers.

Sports Direct match online to offline, and I’ve shown before that Waterstones and HMV don’t. Which do you think is likely to still be in business by February?