Lessons Learnt from my Interview with Tesco’s Head of Brand

Earlier this week we published my interview with Tesco’s Head of Brand Tamara Duschl. We covered a host of different topics from research, to brand (surprise surprise!) and bill splitting apps! In this post I’m bringing you the key things I learnt from Tamara during the interview.

In case you’re not familiar with Tesco — they’re the world’s 5th largest retailer, encompassing online and offline sales, selling products themselves and running a marketplace. Primarily known as a grocer they also have financial, mobile phone, and general merchandise offerings; as well as several overseas operations. If that’s a bit hard to grasp think of their size this way — 75% of the UK population buy something from Tesco each week.

Tesco are currently in a couple of years into a turnaround — which last year saw them turnaround from a loss of £6.3bn to making a profit.

So yes, they are a HUGE company, but so much of (if not all) of Tamara’s advice is equally relevant to the smallest business.

Lesson 1 — Customer research doesn’t have to be complex

Tesco is a business will huge amounts of data (due to their Clubcard program) and plenty of resources for expensive research activity. Tamara’s approach to research though, can be used by a business of any size.

She discusses how they think of research as being in 2 types:

  • The analytical side
  • The emotional side

The more important being the emotional — getting to understand the customer and what they’re challenges are interests are. The great thing is that this is often the easier and cheaper to do. Tamara and her team recently spent a couple of weeks keeping their grocery shopping within the budget of their average customer, such a simple way to get under the customers skin.

Lesson 2- how to get your first job in retail / be tenacious

Tamara shared how she got started in retail — by being very tenacious. She got a job working for an agency who supplied catering staff to the biggest retailer and fashion events — and pitched for an internship whilst working at a French Connection event. Successful she started the following Monday.

Whether you’re looking for a job, a connection, or a new supplier — it pays to be tenacious.

Lesson 3 — You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

The Tesco turnaround project is a huge one. Heavily focused on reinvigorating the way customers feel about the Tesco brand. Over time the business had stopped being passionate about innovation and the customer, instead getting obsessed with efficiency and profit.

In order to revive a brand many would feel the urge to come up with something brand new. But Tamara and her team have taken the decision that instead of coming up with something new, they’re going to take the famous “every little helps” back to its roots.

The common perception is that it’s about saving the pennies — but it turns out that when it was launched there was a list of 120 things that Tesco did to help the customer. Like fix broken trollies and provide baby changing facilities. That’s a strong positioning for a business that impacts directly on the lives of so many in the UK.

So don’t feel you have to reinvent all the time, maybe you just need to remember what your strategy really is, and back to it.

It’s not something that only big businesses can do — next week I’ve an interview with a much smaller and younger business who did just that.

Big companies have the same challenges as all us smaller businesses — and we are able to move much faster!

Listen to the podcast for yourself