Sainsbury’s ‘On The Go’ – Five Talking Points

As our recently released Food To Go 2020 Report reveals, the food to go market is expected to grow by 2.7% in the coming year, meaning there is significant opportunity for those who can best harness it. Growth is currently skewed towards foodservice players, meaning grocery retailers such as Sainsbury’s have their work cut out of turn the tide in their favour and capture their share of the additional spend which is forecast.

In an attempt at capitalising on this opportunity, Sainsbury’s have launched a new ‘On The Go’ store concept in the Square Mile. The store includes a number of interesting features which take the usual Sainsbury’s Local offering up a notch. Here are 5 areas that caught our eye:

Expanded fresh food to go offer

Sainsbury’s have experimented with fresh sushi and hot, customisable pizza to order in some of their larger stores, but this is the first time we have spotted them in a Local store. There are a wealth of alternative food to go options to compete with in the surrounding area meaning the usual sandwich meal deal doesn’t quite cut it.

These reasonably priced alternatives should appeal to local workers looking for something a little more. There is also a small table at the front of the store for those who want a break from their desk to hover at while they eat, however with no seating and limited space this feels like a bit of an afterthought.

Fresh drink selection

It’s not only the food side of the equation receiving fresh attention. In order to lift their drink offering, Sainsbury’s have included a fresh orange juice machine in store, alongside a coffee machine and a tap for refillable water bottles.

Beyond fresh, steps have also been taken to appeal to more than the lunchtime worker, with a strong selection of mini wine bottles and individual beer cans. Alcohol free beer features ensuring the low to no trend is also present.

Bottle and can deposit scheme

While the fresh orange machine notably offers a stack of plastic bottles to take away, steps have been taken to rectify this potential turn-off through the provision of a bottle and can recycling station. Not only will Sainsbury’s take the offending receptacle off your hands, they will return a 5p-off coupon to you for the privilege.

Foodservice brand presence

Standing out among the other grocery items in-store was the presence of another significant foodservice brand. Leon have been given a prominent display for their cook-at-home grocery range. Could Sainsbury’s be hoping to benefit from the halo effect of this strong brand in boosting their food to go credibility?


Stand-out branding for this new ‘On The Go’ concept was conspicuous in its absence outside the store. While the phrase can be found in lights above the sandwich and soft drink selection, this will do little to divert curious potential customers from their usual tried and tested lunch route. Are Sainsbury’s intentionally under-playing this new format until it is proven, or are they missing a trick in maximising its potential appeal?

This store demonstrates an interesting new approach to the city-centre convenience store from Sainsbury’s. The layout is a little Jekyll & Hyde with the bright and airy counters at the front of the store giving way to standard, tightly packed grocery shelving towards the rear, meaning the store doesn’t feel like an entirely clean break from the old.

With the City of London offering arguably the most lunchtime-focused shoppers, this location should offer the ‘On The Go’ concept its best chance of success. It will be interesting to see how many of these features are rolled-out across Sainsbury’s estate, and how they can refine and improve on this starting point over the coming months.