The campaign, which launches next week, is a £20m bet by the retailer to try to steal shoppers from Tesco and Sainsbury’s and convince its own customers to shop there more. The six-month long push will promote quality and Britishness, positioning Lidl as a modern brand deserving of people’s grocery pounds.
Lidl’s managing director Ronny Gottschlich is the first to admit that the way the retailer has communicated with consumers up until now has been a little “old fashioned” and Germanic. Rather than engaging in a two-way conversation with customers via its stores and social media, it opted to send out “aggressive” door drops extolling its pricing.
That is only one of the ways Lidl has struggled to adapt to the British retail landscape. Up until it has been a closed book to journalists, unwilling to share any information but the bare minimum and even then only on its terms.
The unveiling of the new brand campaign and accompanying press event at the Victoria & Albert museum last night shows that Lidl now realises that if it going to play a bigger role in Britain it is going to have to start communicating with everyone in a very different way.
Rather than just shouting about price, Lidl is shifting strategy to starting telling the stories behind the company and its products. That is in PR where it has revealed information on how it saves money by having motion-sensing lights in its offices and packing up products in its vans “tetris-like” to maximise space and cut down on delivery costs.
That’s all aimed at shifting perceptions away from the idea that Lidl’s products are cheap because they’re low quality towards educating customers on how its operations and business methods save it money that it passes on to consumers.
It is also in its marketing. This latest campaign is a marked departure from anything it has put out before, focusing on the brand and what it stands for and its customers and how they benefit from shopping at Lidl.
Marketing director Arnd Pickhardt said it shows Lidl is more confident in its offering and that it has a service that can appeal to shoppers beyond price. Lidl now doesn’t need to bombard customers with piles of leaflets on their doorsteps, instead it can lean back and show them what Lidl offers and watch as the shoppers become brand advocates.
Such an approach is one that you would usually expect the big four to take. As some of the biggest advertisers with the most advanced marketing teams in the UK, they know the power of selling a brand and its story.
It is here where Tesco has fallen down in recent years, failing to find a coherent brand message to communicate to customers. That is why it ousted CEO Philip Clarke in favour of Dave Lewis. He now faces a monumental task of turning around a 4 per cent sales decline, the worst of any grocery retailer according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel.
Lidl and Aldi became popular during the recession because their cheap pricing resonated with cash-strapped consumers. However they have boosted that popularity by behaving more and more like proper supermarkets.
Shops have been revamped to include bakeries. Fresh food has become an increasing focus, so much so that Lidl expects 50 per cent of its sales to come from fresh in the next year. It has expanded into non-food, offering women’s fashion and sports clothes.
The next logical step to being seen as a supermarket is talking like one. This campaign begins that journey for Lidl.