Filling the shopping basket with love


Embedding Human Values in the Premium Own-Brand Market

Reinventing the meaning of premium by bringing it back to human values for a single brand spanning hundreds of categories – and igniting top-line growth to the tune of over £11bn since its launch in 2000.


Despite squeezing the tastiest orange juice in the world, Sainsbury’s own brand was still being outsold 4:1 by the market leader. This begged the question, “How can we compete with premium food brands on a one-to-one basis?” ?What If! partnered with Sainsbury’s to turn this question into an opportunity: “What if we could compete with all premium food brands at once?”


?What If! put boots on the ground, interviewing consumers to strike at the heart of what premium means to people. No matter the product, we found that premium is about love and “hominess” rather than price or prestige. We started to think about small food, and not big food: the stuff that’s bubbling in grandma’s pot – and not in an industrial vat.

Armed with a newfound understanding of the consumer, we laid down the foundation for a premium brand that spoke to home values. We imagined a model that could encompass a range of product stories, all housed within a single brand: Taste the Difference. This gave Sainsbury’s the license to throw their marketing weight behind one story, turning the ownership of premium back to the consumer: “Can you taste the difference?”


Described as the biggest new product launch in the history of Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference achieved a £400m turnover within its first year and was the youngest top 10 brand in the UK. Since then, the brand has continued to grow and is now worth £1.1 billion in yearly revenues.

But our impact is far deeper than just the numbers. The original premium message ‘Taste the difference’ has since evolved into the total Sainsbury’s proposition, ‘Try something new today’, paving the way for differentiation in a highly competitive space.