Lidl’s advertising and marketing director Arnd Pickhardt told Marketing Week that the site will aim to offer loyal fans a better platform to get “even more engaged” with the brand.
The site, which doesn’t yet have a launch date, would require users to sign up to receive access to exclusive information, products and events. In return, Lidl would be looking for feedback on the brand and where it can improve.
“We want to offer customers that want to go a step further in terms of engaging with the brand another opportunity. It’s about giving access to information earlier than others, letting them try and test products, holding events, as well as heavily focusing on getting feedback from customers on products, what they think about us as a brand and what and where we can improve,” he added.
While the site would require users to provide some personal information, Pickhardt said the aim would not be to collect huge amounts of personal data for the sake of analysing shopping habits.
“Of course if we have a community and people log-in then we know more about them. But we have managed quite successfully so far without this and there are no plans to deliberately focus on collecting data,” he said.
Lidl has been using the views of its customers in its latest marketing campaign, entitled #LidlSurprises, showing enthusiastic tweets about the price and quality of its products both in print and in stores. Pickhardt claimed that campaign, which launched 5 weeks ago, has already been “brilliant” for the brand, aiming to use the goodwill a lot of customers have for the brand to attract new shoppers and help boost sales.
He said on the “soft side” Lidl has seen a huge amount of positive feedback on social media from consumers. It has also helped boost sales growth above the 20 per cent increases it has seen on average over the past 12 months and helping attract new customers to the brand, as well as increase basket size, with growing numbers coming to Lidl to buy its fresh fruit and vegetables.
The campaign will run through Christmas, with a festive push planned from the start of November. Pickhardt said that the Christmas activity will aim to surprise, while at the same time staying true to the creative of using real people and their reactions.
Both Lidl and Aldi have moved their marketing on in the past year, shifting focus from door drops and only speaking to customers at certain times of the year, such as Chrismas or Easter, to integrated marketing campaigns that run through the year. They have found a winning combination by showcasing both their prices and quality and are seeing double-digit sales increases at a time when Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s sales are declining.
Marketing Week caught up with Pickhardt to discuss the Lidl brand, the price war and loyalty.
MW: Does the big four talking about price concern Lidl?
AP: I wouldn’t say it’s a worry at all. We have the prices that we’ve always had, we don’t need promotions or loyalty cards to give these prices and these prices are based on a very thoroughly calculated way of getting the possible price onto the market and achieving this by having a very efficient system behind the entire organisation. We are able to deliver those real prices rather than promoting and reducing prices to get customers into the stores. These are prices that we offer every single day.
MW? What do you make of Morrisons’ plan to price match with you?
AP: I wouldn’t want to comment about it directly. In our advertising we want to make a clear point that we feel customers don’t need to go through all these stages because we have [low prices] without all the thrills, you get the low price just by turning up. Simplicity is what its all about.
MW? Is having low prices enough to drive loyalty?
AP: No. Previously we mainly focused in our communication with customers on the price and did not really talk about the quality of the products. We haven’t really changed anything on the quality side, although we have grown to focus more on fresh product, but in terms of the quality we’ve always had a focus on being best in the market. Its just that now we are talking about it.
Marketing Week: How important is the Lidl brand in your marketing?
Arnd Pickhardt: The brand is important but we don’t really talk about it because the products and the quality of the products for that price and the surprise we trigger in revealing that to customers is such a strong message that we’ve got enough story to tell just talking about the products. There is more of that job to be done rather than starting a brand campaign that is purely based on emotions and feelings. At the moment we have enough to say about this fantastic pairing of great prices and quality.
MW: How has the type of shopper at Lidl changed?
AP: We basically attract everyone. When we started looking we were surprised ourselves at how balanced the share between ABC1 and C2D customers was and that is down to fresh fruit and vegetables and wines. Generally everyone is buying more, our basket size is growing. We have good offers for everyone.
We love the idea of the ‘Lidl Classes’ because we are relevant for everyone.
MW: Does that broad shopper base make the marketing job harder?
AP: You could argue it is quite difficult but you aren’t a brand like Louis Vuitton that has a very specific target. In our communication we have to do a good job to be relevant and be seen as relevant for everyone and we do that with the current campaign and a good mix of what we advertise – sometimes focusing on wines, other times on essentials.
MW: You are still referred to as a discounter, is that a tag you are happy with?
AP: We see ourselves as a highly efficient supermarket. There is nothing wrong with being a discounter but we have developed the range and offers to a wider spectrum. Considering this we do not see ourselves as a discounter.
MW: Is there an opportunity in being separated out from the big four?
AP: Certainly. When you have a good product and you stand out it is something positive.
The challenge is to continue surprising people and to continue to grow in a highly competitive market. We are confident because we see in other markets where Lidl has a much higher market share and because we have a very honest and true product to offer. We have the right to be in this market and you can see from our growth that there is a demand for us to be in this market.