Celebrity endorsement started out in fashion stores as savvy designers recruited famous faces to market their product and now very few high street retailers do not include a famous name in a new season collection.
The idea of adding celebrity cache to a brand has slowly begun seeping into other areas, notably the grocery sector where such partnerships have proven to be lucrative for both parties.
Supermarket chain Morrisons capitalised on the growing popularity of TV food programmes by introducing a new celebrity food range last year, enlisting several Michelin star chefs to be associated with its brand.
M Kitchen comprises a different restaurant quality meal created by top chefs Pierre Koffman, Aldo Zilli, Bryn Williams, Nigel Haworth and Atul Kocchar with a flavour represented from each of their native countries.
Several of the dishes in the M Kitchen range have led to unprecedented levels of demand from the retailer and Julian Bailey, Head of Media Relations at Morrisons told Retail Gazette that giving a much needed facelift to its convenience range with the new celebrity chef line has increased sales considerably.
“We did a relaunch of our overall convenience range at the same time and sales lifted by 60 per cent last year,” he said.
“We reported in November we were selling 250 of the Nigel Haworth hotpots per hour.
“The relaunch of the whole range has been a success and we’re very pleased with those from our professional chefs. “
Aldo Zilli has created an addition line of organic baby food in store as well as being part of the M Kitchen chefs and the offering has proven to be so popular that Morrisons is planning to launch a toddler range by August of this year.
Zilli explained that the quality of the grocer’s produce and its ongoing growth in the market encouraged him to extend his offering.
Zilli told Retail Gazette: “The chain is looking up and they have improved their food buying.
“We M Kitchen chefs helped them with their production and development of the M Kitchen range. The idea was right for me as I like the supermarket in general and the way they moving on in the market.
“I like the way they buy their produce.They know what they need to provide for their customer
“The whole thing was very interesting for me so I decided to go along with it.”
It is not just the big four wanting celebrity endorsement to enhance their credentials as upmarket retailers have also realised the benefits of such a move. Waitrose brought in one of the nation’s most loved chefs, Delia Smith and one known for innovation, Heston Blumenthal at the same time to deliver a double pronged approach to its customer.
Waitrose has since been bowled over by the recipes which it feels brings a new breed of shopper to its stores. A Waitrose spokesperson said: “During the first 27 weeks, 1.3 million customers responded to the campaign and it continues to inspire new and existing shoppers alike.”
Waitrose believes it has sparked an increase in the nation preparing meals from scratch and getting involved in experimenting with ingredients.
“It has inspired the nation to get cooking, experimenting and enjoying food,” said the spokesperson.
“In the days following the launch of Delia and Heston’s recipes, we tend to see huge uplifts in sales of some of the ingredients.
“For example, when Delia’s rhubarb and ginger brulee recipe launched we sold 14 weeks’ worth of rhubarb in the seven days after the ad first ad, and sales of ginger leapt more than 3000%.”
Cultivating new ideas and fresh approaches is an underlying value shared by Waitrose’s celebrity chefs, which the grocer felt was key to its approach, rather than attaching an arbitrary name to its product for a surge in sales. Core to its belief system is that food should be interesting and fun, highlighted b