This post is by Hannah Campbell, Operations Director at The Work Perk.
A recent survey by The Grocer reveals that out of 11 supermarkets across Britain, Aldi and Lidl are not just winning the price war; both supermarket chains have also changed consumer perceptions by proving that a product can still be perceived as 'quality' without a brand's name or a large price tag attached to it.
The report also highlights that Aldi and Lidl are speeding ahead of the 'big four' supermarkets, and have more than five times the nine new store opening projects that have been put forth by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons combined for 2016. So how did these two discount supermarkets swoop in and take on the UK's most established food stores so successfully?
In short, Aldi and Lidl – in particular – proved to British consumers that they have been mistaken in their perceptions. They didn't attempt to get involved with the supermarket price wars; they simply showed the British consumer that better value for money does not have to equate to poor quality. Aldi and Lidl altered the public's perception of quality by challenging people to step outside of their comfort zone. They didn't pretend to be something they are not – they simply wanted the consumers to understand who they are, by trying their products out for themselves.
A Lidl brand campaign
Following a £20 million brand campaign in 2014, Lidl has won Britain over. But how exactly did the supermarket entice UK consumers to try its cheap, non-branded products? What was it that convinced the Waitrose elite to join the thrifty shoppers and try out Germany's finest Parma ham and smoked salmon for less than half the price? Quite simply, the brand used an accessible and relatable theme for its adverts that showed middle-class Brits, like themselves, at a farmers market trying out the products. This #LidlSurprises campaign was so successful that it had UK consumers flocking to their local stores because they had seen others 'try' the products on TV, online and in print. The idea is simple, but so effective in terms of challenging peoples' (mis)perceptions of the brand. It completely altered the way in which we consider something to be 'valuable'. With so much daily noise generated by brands and coming from all angles, who better to influence a consumer than someone who is potentially just as sceptical as they are?
Not only have Aldi and Lidl convinced the UK to 'try' non-branded products, taste tests have now revealed that the discounters own food and drink labels have beat Tesco and M&S at The Grocer's Food & Drink Own Label Awards. The #LidlSurprises campaign has proved to British consumers that they should not have to compromise on quality for price, inspiring an incremental shift in the way British supermarkets market themselves. Having had the freedom to infringe their own rules on the marketplace for decades, the marketing techniques of the UK's biggest supermarkets now have to take a u-turn to begin to compete with the newbies that have disrupted their marketplace.
Lidl has caused this rift in the market by highlighting that consumers are open to sampling new things. The key factor here is that many consumers had to see Lidl food being sampled in the advertising campaign, and potentially sample for themselves, to believe in the quality of it.
Consumers are becoming savvier to branding and advertising, but Lidl has shown the incredible impact on that observing their peers sampling their products can have. The #LidlSurprises campaign highlights how important it is for marketers to connect with their key demographic to try a product before they buy it, and to use these brand ambassadors to further spread the word of this product.
The Lidl campaign proves that the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) principle in marketing is still as relevant as ever. Marketers needn't consistently have to re-invent the wheel. By keeping messages simple, and adopting traditional techniques, consumers will respond positively. Amidst all the noise of the digital era it's endearing to see marketers still implementing strands of 'back to basics' activity and letting the consumer actually test products for themselves – enabling the quality to speak for itself.