SUPERMARKET giant Coles has put its long-running "Down, Down" advertising campaign on the backburner as it moves beyond price to talk about the positive role it plays in the community.
The new campaign slogan, "Good Things Are Happening At Coles", will debut in two TV ads on Wednesday night, one highlighting Coles' 96 per cent Australian sourcing policy and the other its charity partnership with Redkite.
It comes as Coles attempts to regain lost sales momentum in the face of a resurgent Woolworths and ever-expanding Aldi. Coles' same-store sales slowed to 0.9 per cent in the first half of the financial year, compared with Woolworths which grew sales 4.9 per cent in the same period.
"Over the last six months we've spoken to about 45,000 customers and team members about Coles, about what they want from us, and it's informed us on things we put into our strategy," Coles managing director John Durkan said in a speech at the Retail Leaders Forum in Sydney on Tuesday.
"It's also informed us on what they want to hear from us, and it's way beyond low prices - they want to hear much more from us about the good things we're doing, and we've described this [as] 'Good Things Are Happening At Coles'."
The major supermarkets have collectively spent billions of dollars lowering grocery prices over the past few years, with Coles winning the messaging war for most of that time with its "Down, Down" jingle which first hit screens in 2010.
In 2015, Woolworths attempted to copy Coles' success with its disastrous "Cheap, Cheap" campaign, which was universally panned by viewers and quickly abandoned.
Speculation that the major supermarkets would move beyond price messaging has been growing amid signs the bitter price wars of the past decade are coming to an end.
Last month, a price survey by investment bank UBS found Woolworths lowered its prices at a faster rate than Coles over the December 2017 quarter - 0.9 per cent versus the previous quarter, compared with a 0.2 per cent rise in prices at Coles in the same period.
"The market remains competitive but not irrational," UBS analyst Ben Gilbert wrote. "While Woolworths' prices fell at a faster rate than Coles, we believe that prices remain on par and Coles does not have a price problem."
Last year, Coles toyed with a temporary new slogan highlighting its increased investment in service. That campaign was abandoned after young checkout staff, ordered to hold up paddles saying "I'm Free", reported being sexually harassed by customers.
Mr Durkan said the new ads were about "making it easy for customers".
"No one wants to go and have to buy their food and think too hard about it," he said.
"It's hardly a delight to go shopping for your groceries. So we've got to make it simple, [and] it's got to go beyond price. It's got to be more than that. We certainly heard that around the country and in many communities, it is about the community.
"And lastly it's about trust. Customers want to be able to trust. They don't want to have to think too hard, they don't want to have to think, are they going to be ripped off?"
The change in direction comes a day after 13-year-old grocery delivery business Aussie Farmers Direct collapsed into voluntary administration, saying it could not compete in a market dominated by the major supermarkets.
Insiders and experts, however, blamed the company's downfall on overexpansion, increasing pressure on franchisees and tightening consumer wallets.
Woolworths has a 36.8 per cent market share of Australia's $100 billion supermarket sector, followed by Coles on 30.9 per cent, Aldi on 8.6 per cent and Metcash on 7.5 per cent, according to market research firm IBISWorld.