Figures from Neilsen show that Aldi was the biggest spender in the four weeks ending 6 December, the period in which most of the grocers launched their Christmas ad campaigns. It spent £9.8m, up 26% compared to a year ago and well ahead of nearest rival Asda, which spent £8.7m.
Lidl increased its spend the most, up 85% to £6.7m as it looks to tempt more people through its doors. Speaking to Marketing Week earlier this week, Lidl’s advertising and marketing director Arnd Pickhardt said the discounter is “on track” for its best Christmas ever.
The marketing push does appear to be helping the discounters maintain their sales growth. Lidl saw its market share increase to 4.7% in the 12 weeks to 6 December, up from 3.9% a year ago as sales increased by 20.1%, according to Nielsen. Lidl’s sales growth is beaten only by Aldi, which saw sales rise 21.2% year on year to give it a market share of 5.7%.
Marks & Spencer’s, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s also increased their ad budgets. All three tend to outperform over the festive period as shoppers look to more premium grocers to buy Christmas treats but are facing growing competition from Aldi and Lidl, with a third of shoppers saying they plan to visit a discounter.
However both Tesco and Morrisons, the worst performing of the supermarkets in terms of sales, cut their ad budgets by 21% and 11% respectively. Overall, ad spend was up 36% in the first week of December compared to a year ago and 9.2% for the 4 weeks to 6 December as grocers look to kickstart festive sales, which have so far lagged last year.
Nielsen estimates that value sales were down 0.6% in the 4-week period, with volume sales also falling, by 0.4%. However the research firm is forecasting a “relatively better December”, with sales up 0.4% and shoppers expected to spend £6.5bn in the final two weeks before Christmas.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, says: “Retailers are investing heavily in advertising to tempt shoppers into their stores for the peak trading period which starts today.
“Many shoppers have been cautious with their spending all year. But savings made from recent price wars could now be used for treats in the run up to Christmas. There’s still much for the retailers to play for in the remaining days of Christmas trading.”