Superquinn and the Sausage that lost it’s Sizzle

Superquinn - The Last Day

Feargal Quinn pictured with family as the Superquinn name is taken down

In marketing we often say “Don’t talk about the sausage, talk about the sizzle!

Instead of talking about the “thing” we talk about how it makes you feel, the benefits, the mood, the emotion, that sense of occasion.

A sausage according to wikipedia is: a food usually made from ground meat with a skin around it. Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may be removed after.

Yummy.. Imagine marketing that product!

Ironically this week where we witnessed the last nail in the coffin of the once fabulous Superquinn brand we heard the MD of SuperValu, Martin Kelliher reassuring customers that the sausages would be retained!

Is that the very last thing to survive of the brand or does the sausage in some way represent everything that was once special about Superquinn for shoppers?

When I worked in Dublin for Guinness during the mid nineties I was living near the Clondalkin area. Even though I had my own music store in the Mill Centre in Clondalkin where there was a Dunnes Stores, my weekly grocery shopping was done in Superquinn in Lucan, a good 20 minutes away by car.

Somehow shopping in Superquinn just didn’t feel too painful (I hate shopping) because of the atmosphere, the store layout, the smells, the unusual selection of food, the food samples, the fabulous wine selection and the genuine friendly service. Of course the sausages were different and these were bought from time to time!

Feargal Quinn and his team were delivering a product and service at a level way above all other Irish grocery competitors, which helped to build the successful brand, Superquinn.

The Superquinn brand was built using a unique mix of ingredients just like their famous sausages, which they had clearly perfected.

Incredibly there is a support group for their famous sausages!

On this support group they say:

Superquinn sausagesIn 1976 Superquinn perfected the pork sausage, nothing else even comes close. If I was a pig I would feel privileged to donate my body to a noble cause like this. Following a trip to Germany in early 1976, Feargal Quinn decided that Superquinn would create the perfect sausage for Irish tastes. Superquinn butcher, Pat Kelly was the lucky man faced with the ultimate challenge

Feargal Quinn seemed to take this approach with everything he did in his stores – they were different and they were better.

Over time the other grocery chains improved, the differences weren’t as different as they once were and the special ethos that once defined Superquinn started to dissolve.

When Feargal Quinn sold the stores to an investor group who had no experience in the very challenging sector the once special sizzle started to disappear and the business went backwards.

Are you minding the sizzle in your business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

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11 Responses to “Superquinn and the Sausage that lost it’s Sizzle”

  1. Derek Rusk Says:

    Hi Greg,
    Love the blog. The sausage story puts me in mind of Yes Minister when Jim Hacker ascends to No 10 on his campaign to save the British sausage from the clutches of the EEC. They wanted to rename the great British sausage as the “emulsified high fat offal tubing”.
    Ha-ha. Try marketing that one!!!

  2. Susan Bourke Says:

    Hi Greg,
    The key to retaining the “Sizzle” is front of house and attention to detail. Fergal Quinn visited all his stores daily as did P.V Doyle of Doyle Hotel fame ,you were not just buying sausages you were buying a piece of Fergal Quinns dream.Francis Brennan of Park Hotel Fame and “At Your Service” is also omniprescient in his business ie ALWAYS answers the phone and is in the front hall.
    No absentee landlord need apply anytime soon. Love the blog! Susan Bourke

  3. alanmjordan Says:

    Funny Greg just having a similar discussion with Ron during the week. Your post is spot on.

    Every book we read talks about this. Mission, passion, purpose, values. Why, why, why, why? It is the platform or framework for guiding principles, it is why you and your staff care, it is the reason you exist. If you can’t formulate this, do not go any further.

    This is right up your street Greg.

    One lesson coming from ” Power Branding” is alignment. While I’m not partial to the word you know that under Fergal, Superquin had it in spades

    Some of thje biggest lessons paraphrase the essence of your comments,

    “The best brands begin with internal alignment. Great brands are great brands not only in word but also in deed. And that requires clear and long-lasting consensus among the management team (and ideally throughout the organisation). Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Consensus is the absence of leadership. Believe it or not, research demonstrates that something as mundane as a lack of alignment is one of the most common reasons why growth stalls in any company and every industry. If your brand has veered off course, it may be your team that’s in need of an alignment.”

    “In research into the causes of corporate growth challenges, the author found that a lack of consensus among the management team (let alone the rest of the organisation) was the leading reason why companies fall off and can’t get back onto the growth curve. The larger the company, the greater the importance there is to get to a clear, simple brand idea. It needs to become a rallying point for the entire organisation. It shapes the culture, it shapes business decisions, and it shapes behaviours.” this is all straight from “The moment of clarity” or “The connected company”.

    Internal branding is key

    In his view companies that overlook internal branding are doing themselves a critical disservice. Every decision every employee makes has an impact, small or large, on your brand, and what you do internally can bridge the gap between perception and reality, promise and delivery, credibility and hypocrisy. Yet in most companies, internal branding doesn’t receive nearly the time, resources, or attention that external efforts do. Your most important target audience is the people who see your brand on their pay checks

    You drove 20 minutes to do your shop because your were made to feel a little special you like the smells, the wines and the friendly atmosphere. What retailers can we say that of now? There is still a huge gap waiting for companies to step up to the plate. Changing the name isn’t one of them.

  4. Dan O Brien (@DanOBrien14) Says:

    Just my viewpoint but Superquinn just couldnt adapt when peoples priorities to groceries changed. Nowadays LIDL and ALDI are where people shop. The fact that Dealz is growing shows this shift in focus. These days value for money is king in Ireland as least

  5. Says:

    I see the Superquinn Sausage being heavily promoted in store these days at €4 per lb. I would suggest that price is a significant premium on other sausages.

    Add in the fact that they are now mass produced in a factory and the sizzle fizzles.

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