This paper represents an analysis of the recent rise in online home shopping and more specifically the service offered by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. The analysis derives from a market driven management perspective and attempts to place the recent activity by Sainsbury’s within a strategic and market driven framework, assessing the degree to which its management decisions fit in with existing theory in this area. To this end then, this paper represents not only an assessment and examination of a real world company using contemporary theory but an evaluation of that theory as it manifests within a practical situation. Sainsbury’s has a long history of retail within the British market, however the initial marketing campaign for its online service, Sainsbury’s To You, was disappointing, forcing a re-launch and re-branding exercise in 2006 (Lyons, 2006) that aimed to be more in tune with customer needs. This makes Sainsbury’s Online (as it is now called) an ideal subject for a paper dealing with market driven management. It is hoped that this paper represents both an outline and evaluation of market driven management in praxis but also a study of how a relatively traditionally based company can respond to customer needs and incorporate these into their branding exercises and their corporate culture.
As Lambin (2000) states, “Marketing is both a business philosophy and an action-orientated process” (Lambin, 2000: 3); it has both an abstract base and a practical application and, as such, changes to suit the surrounding socio-economic and socio-political situation. Marketing not only exists as an interface between a company and its customers but also as a statement of intent within a marketplace that serves to define market share and product placement. Traditionally, marketing has often been seen as a way of exploiting (or perhaps even creating) sometimes, unconscious needs and desires within consumers. Maddock and Fulton’s 1996 textbook Marketing to the Mind: Right Brain Strategies for Advertising and Marketing, for instance aims to use psychological techniques to create a perceived need within a consumer that can be exploited by a company in a circular process of creation and satiation of desire. Used more as an active verb, marketing has come to describe the process of interest generation once a product has been created, rather than having an integral place within research, development and production itself.