UK supermarket chain Waitrose have withdrawn their popular ‘Essential’ range after discovering that the cut-price products had led to a number of poor people shopping there.
The discount brand, launched in 2009 to help Waitrose’s core customer base cope with the recession, without having to downgrade one of their Range Rovers, was proving extremely successful. This success appears to have come at a price though, with the unwanted side effect of attracting the working class.
‘At first it worked fine, our regular shoppers were delighted with the new range, and common people were still put off by the Waitrose branding.’ explains marketing director Rupert Thomas, ‘But as we advertised more, and started including the prices of products in our TV commercials, we began to see some undesirable characters appearing in our aisles, enticed in by the prospect of finding a tin of beans for under £5, which they previously hadn’t expected from us. One horrid man even came in wearing a Hi-Vis vest looking for a sandwich. It was awful.’
The popularity of the ‘Essential’ range had seen it quickly expanded to include affordable versions of many foodstuffs and household items. This would appear to be where the problems started, as people earning below £100k a year realised that they could feed their family for a week, using only ‘Essential’ ingredients, for less than £800.
‘Hopefully withdrawing the products and the adverts will stop any additional commoners coming in,’ continued Mr Thomas, ‘but we still have the problem of getting rid of the ones that have already started shopping with us. They’re still turning up, wandering around looking a bit lost and not buying anything. We’re thinking of putting down some traps baited with chicken nuggets.’