Mixed support for Tesco in Britain

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
June 14, 2010, 11:02 PM GMT+0

The British public are unable to agree on their opinion of retail giant Tesco, although it wins support overall by a slim margin, and is especially popular among young people and in Scotland, new research by YouGov has found.
While 45% of British adults attribute Tesco’s success to its cheap, varied food choices and ability to create jobs wherever it goes, 43% feel that it is ‘too powerful’, ‘pushes down prices for producers’ and ‘drives out competition from smaller shops’.

The supermarket chain is nothing if not controversial, widely touted as the most successful of its kind in the UK, with new stores – selling anything from food to clothes to mobile phones – still being built amid mixed support and dismay from the public. Negative press and consumer ambivalence does not seem to have affected Tesco’s performance in the last year, though – YouGov SixthSense research has shown that its dominance in the food market remains very strong, representing one third of the entire food retail market value.

The picture of support for the chain is varied throughout the country. Young people are especially drawn to the lure of Tesco’s variety of choice, cheap prices and convenience, with 51% of 18-34 year olds supporting it compared to 42% of over 35s. In fact, it seems the older you are, the more condemnatory of the brand; 48% of over 55 year old consider the supermarket giant to be ‘a bad influence on Britain today’ compared to 44% of 35-54 year olds and 35% of 18-34 year olds.

Geography plays a role too, with 47% of Londoners feeling that Tesco is ‘too powerful’ and drives smaller shops out of business, compared to just 36% who support the supermarket. And while those in the Midlands show high levels of positive support (53% say Tesco ‘meets the needs of customers’), consumers in the North of England are even more disapproving than Londoners, with 48% seeing Tesco in a bad light.

Perhaps the brand should look north to beyond the border - in Scotland, the picture is much rosier. A substantial 57% call Tesco a ‘good influence’ and claim that its success is due to its ability to ‘meet the needs of customers’. Only 27% of Scots think Tesco has become ‘too powerful’. Indeed, despite the view held by many that Tesco is ‘unfair’ – by pricing smaller opposition out of the market – YouGov SixthSense research reveals that 60% of UK consumers still shop at local stores at least once a week.

Survey details and full results

Click here for further information on the YouGov SixthSense grocery retail report