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Supermarket wars continue to rage 2010-07-17[back]

        Sales  figures for Coles and Woolworths will be scrutinised over the next fortnight to gauge the impact of the savage marketing war waged by the supermarket chains over the past six months.

        Coles is outspending Woolworths by two to one and still has eight more episodes of MasterChef Australia left to milk its sponsorship - estimated to be worth $3 million.

        Its aggressive attack on Woolworths - neatly underscored with its ''Feed your family for under $10'' ads - is paying off, say Coles sources, although Woolworths has rolled out its own data showing its prices are falling to rebut the claim. More is in the pipeline, say sources, with more ads starring the chef Curtis Stone and activity planned around its sponsorship of Channel Seven's My Kitchen Rules, which is scheduled to return in the months leading up to late October when Ten's Junior MasterChef will air.

 

        Coles, which has the first right of refusal on sponsorship for that program, is believed to have already taken up the option.

        Next week, Woolworths reports its fourth-quarter sales figures. Five days later Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, reports its figures - which cover the MasterChef season - and is expected to report another increase.

        Coles has been throwing heavyweight dollars behind some of its key marketing initiatives: in the four weeks to July 4 - the most recent figures available - Coles has been spending more than $1 million a week on advertising alone, culminating at $1.4 million in the final week. Woolworths has maintained its spend at roughly $600,000 a week.

        A coles spokesman, Jim Cooper, denied it had increased its budgets. ''We are not spending any more … but we've changed the mix so that you are noticing it more, such as with the MasterChef and Curtis Stone [initiatives]. Any implication that we are ramping up our spend would not be right.''

        Both chains are spending roughly 20 per cent more on advertising this year, according to figures to the end of May from the Nielsen Company.

        At first glance Coles appears to be the clear winner, grabbing the MasterChef sponsorship and positioning itself as the place that offers practical cooking solutions to the time-pressed and budget conscious.

        Not so, says Woolworths, which says it started cutting prices on 4000 items in October and started marketing in February, whereas Coles began its ''Down down'' price-cutting campaign in early June.

        A woolworths spokeswoman, Clare Buchanan, said the chain was not interested in taking on the sponsorship of MasterChef. ''We don't really do celebrities,'' she said.

        Recent ads have focused on ordinary people to push Woolworths' ''Fresh food people'' message.

        However, she acknowledged the power of MasterChef. ''It's created a much greater level of interest in food and cooking which will have helped everyone, including us,'' she said.

        Kevin Moore, chief executive of the retail marketing company Crossmark, said the two chains were now on an equal footing.

        ''Coles is meeting Woolies in spend, thoughtfulness, strategy, innovation and store fit-outs. So now you have two strong equal players who own the top of the market.''

All right:Suzhou Sugulong Metallic Products Co., Ltd      Address: ShangHu Town, Changshu City, Jiangsu Province, 215553, China