Let me get one thing straight – I do not love Aldi. However, just to confuse you, I can also say that I do not dislike Aldi either. One thing is for sure – millions of UK consumers do love Aldi, including Mrs Golding! In September 2013, Aldi reported a rise in annual revenue of 41% (bringing it to £3.4 billion), opening 34 new stores in the process. According to Edward Kantar of Worldwide Panel, Aldi and Lidl in particular are appealing increasingly to a wider range of shoppers as they diversify their offering – selling some luxury products “like champagne and prosciutto ham” as well as basic goods. So is this the real reason why Aldi is making such a charge? It may well be a contributor, but I think there are some other pretty clear reasons why Aldi is appealing to more and more consumers, and that is the subject of this blog post.
To start with, let me just remind you of the results of my independent research into ‘what customers want’, conducted in September 2013 (http://ijgolding.com/2013/11/06/what-do-customers-really-want-the-top-five-most-important-things-revealed/). The top 5 things were as follows:
Number one on the list is the first thing that Aldi excels at – value for money. Shopping at Aldi can save you money – fact! One of their well-known advertising campaigns states ‘like brands, only cheaper’. Aldi’s lower cost proposition sits perfectly in line with the current wants and needs of British consumers. If you are feeling the pinch, you need a way of tightening the belt. Aldi allows you to do that. Just because Aldi is great value, it does not mean it is cheap for everything. Savvy shoppers must always look closely at prices to ensure that they are getting good value – and most of the time that will be the case at Aldi.
Many people consider ‘cheap’ and ‘nasty’ as words that often go together. That is not the case with Aldi. Number 4 of things that customers wanted from my research was ‘quality’, and Aldi have created a formula that allows them to deliver great value products without any compromise to quality. They have done this through creating brands of their own, and ensuring that these brands are of the same if not better quality. Some consumers are very loyal to brand names – if you are, Aldi may not be for you. Yet if you are willing to give it a go, it is very unlikely that you will be disappointed.
Third on my list of ‘what customers want’ is ‘keeping promises and reliability’. Aldi succeed here as well. They have a very simple business model. Their stores are identical – always set out the same way – it does not matter which Aldi you visit, the experience will always feel the same. They are committed to saving you money on your weekly shop – this is the biggest promise of them all – and I guarantee that you will not be let down. The brand operates with typical Germanic efficiency. My wife always tells me that one of the reasons she loves Aldi is that the experience is so quick – you are ‘in and out’. It is the consistency of the offer, and the reliability of the service that makes this possible.
At this point, you might be thinking ‘are you sure you do not love Aldi? I am sure – and let me explain why. I think Aldi is great – it is great value. It has great quality products. It has that unique supermarket feature of the ever-changing product offer in the middle of the store – the one that contains sports equipment, to knitting kits, to children’s toys (I do love this bit – you never know what treasure you are going to find). Yet despite this, I would never choose Aldi as my preferred place to go and do a supermarket shop. I must admit – Aldi scares me. I always feel rushed by other shoppers who know exactly where the products are without opening their eyes – I always feel like I am in the way. Aldi does not have everything I need. Some things Aldi just do not sell – this means that it is hard to do your shop in one go. Mrs G does most of the supermarket shopping in the Golding household. She loves Aldi, but agrees that the shop must be supplemented somewhere else – she still thinks it is worth it though.
But the thing that scares me the most is the end bit – the checkout. I remember my first ever visit to an Aldi. I did not have my own bags – fail! Having purchased a couple of bags, I tried to pack them whilst the products were coming through the checkout – fail! It is amazing that I survived the experience – products were going everywhere – the checkout assistant was trying to be patient with me, but kept shaking her head. By the time the last product went into my trolley, I was shaking and covered in sweat! I then offered my credit card as payment – fail! It became clear to me that there is a certain way of shopping in Aldi – yet no-one had explained that to me. The checkout experience is unlike any of the big supermarkets in the UK. It is not intended to be so. Aldi is growing at the rate it is because many UK consumers do not care. Value and quality are seen as being more important that someone carefully packing your bags for you – that is why Aldi works.
What is great about Aldi, and why other brands could learn from them, is that Aldi are not trying to appeal to everyone. I would not choose to shop at Aldi because I do not like the ‘stress’ of the checkout experience. I am very happy for Mrs G to do so though – she quite likes the experience. Brands do not need to be all things to all men. They just need to know what their core proposition is, and focus on delivering it brilliantly. Aldi is not know for being the ‘Rolls Royce’ of customer service – they do not need to be. Their staff are very pleasant by the way! Aldi just need to keep doing what they do and they will continue to grow. More consumers will try them out, and will either love it or will ask someone else to do the shop for them!!
If you love Aldi (or not) it would be great to know if you agree?