Sainsbury's: Getting More Vans on the Road

Recruitment Media Campaign

Sainsbury’s: Getting More Vans on the Road

Grocery retailer Sainsbury’s turned to PeopleScout to hire drivers to support their growing online business.

6,200 annual hires
5 weeks to fill most roles
analytics informed approach resulted in reduced marketing spend
analytics informed approach resulted in reduced marketing spend

With online grocery shopping becoming increasingly popular, Sainsbury’s looked to PeopleScout to maximize the number of delivery slots that they could offer to customers. In a saturated marketplace, it wasn’t enough just to target existing drivers, we also needed to find those with transferable skills and encourage them to apply. The resulting strategy enabled Sainsbury’s to go to market with a number of highly targeted and locations-specific attraction campaigns.


Before engaging with PeopleScout, the client struggled to meet its hiring goals. Approximately two-thirds of candidates dropped out of the hiring process between the first two steps of the screening process. Many candidates couldn’t complete screening during traditional recruiting hours.  

In response to these challenges, PeopleScout provides a highly scalable delivery team to meet the client’s fluctuating hiring needs and address regional and cultural preferences during the screening process. PeopleScout’s centralized recruitment support ensures compliance and streamlines the process through innovative technology solutions. Positions in scope include 6,200 annual hires for warehouse and truck driver positions.

Sainsbury’s business strategy is to respond to the changing needs of their customers, enabling them to shop whenever and wherever they want. Seven days a week, Sainsbury’s delivers fresh food, groceries, general merchandise and clothing from suppliers around the world, via 33 distribution centers, to their store and online customers, meeting their requirements for flexible, convenient shopping.

Drivers are a vital part of this strategy, ensuring that Sainsbury’s can make deliveries to millions of customers at a time that suits them.

The online grocery department is a fast-growing business for Sainsbury’s. When we started this project, one in five employees worked in the department, but with changing consumer habits, this was soon to become one in three.

Despite being one of the company’s largest employee populations, it experienced high turnover in line with the challenging driver recruitment market. Some locations, for example, inner-city areas and affluent suburban locations, found it particularly hard to recruit.

The level of attrition made it hard for the department to grow, and driver availability became the limiting factor when it came to processing orders. It was vital for the business to hire more drivers immediately, but also have a robust strategy for the future too.



  • Marketing Intelligence & Market Analysis
  • Persona Development
  • Process Design
  • Creative Development
  • Integrated Media Campaign


  • COMPANY: Sainsbury’s
  • PEOPLESCOUT SOLUTIONS: Recruitment Process Outsourcing, Talent Advisory
  • ANNUAL HIRES: 6,200 annual hires for warehouse and truck driver positions
  • LOCATIONS: 33 distribution centers
  • ABOUT SAINSBURY’S: Sainsbury’s is a British supermarket and the second largest grocery chain in the United Kingdom. Since opening their first store in 1869, Sainsbury’s in focused on providing great value food and convenient shopping, whether in-store or online—as well as through their other brands Argos, Habitat, Tu, Nectar and Sainsbury’s Bank.

Our first step was to leverage interviews and focus groups to understand the recruitment proposition for drivers at Sainsbury’s.

In addition to interviews, we utilized market mapping techniques to understand the labor force, reporting on salary benchmarks, competitor activity, and the socio-demographics of hard-to-fill locations.

Using the data collected from interviews and focus groups, we developed distinct driver personas, each with its own messaging framework and channel strategy. We used these to develop highly targeted comms for each group, responding to their motivations and behaviors.

Secondary messaging included: flexible shifts where we knew there was a high student population and non-monetary benefits such as child-care vouchers in areas that had a high density of families.


The campaign was so successful that the majority of roles were filled within the first five weeks of the 12-week campaign, meaning that Sainsbury’s could cut back on their marketing spend. More impressively, seven locations needed to pause their recruitment due to high application numbers including two of the locations that were identified as hard-to-fill areas.

After speaking to hiring managers, existing employees, and those working for competitor organizations, we found that the majority of people eligible to be a Sainsbury’s delivery driver didn’t realize that they already had the skills to do the job. In fact, the role required skills like good customer service, time management, and self-motivation which we found to crossover with a number of different sectors.

This led us to design a creative route that focused on the core messaging of “All you need is a license” and “Where will your license take you?” educating the audience around the training and development new joiners received. This sat in contrast to another creative route which we used in locations that had high competitor activity. There we led with the messaging around the fact that Sainsbury’s offered guaranteed hours where other organizations did not.

Before the campaign, Sainsbury’s was engaging with candidates across multiple channels with different communications, which meant they ended up talking to the same audience in different ways, about different things. By taking this insight-driven segmented approach, Sainsbury’s could instead talk confidently about the things that mattered to candidates, using the channels that they were most likely to respond to.

“The success of the campaign so far has been unprecedented and as such after five weeks we are already in a place where most of our stores in the trial have filled all driver hours required. In total, we have received over 2,000 applications. We’ve extended 131 offers, and 106 have been accepted so far.”

Client Testimonial