Lidl’s marketing boss on how its new campaign stands out amid a ‘pattern of price-led’ messaging

Lidl is calling on consumers to abandon popular FMCG brands, such as Cathedral City, Ocean Spray and Monster Munch, for its ‘better quality’ own-label goods as marketing director Arnd Pickhardt calls out rivals’ marketing for a lack of differentiation.

In the new ‘Shop a Lidl Smarter’ ads members of the public take part in blind taste tests comparing Lidl products to branded equivalents. The aim is to encourage consumers to “trust in their tastebuds” and avoid paying over the odds for an “inferior tasting” brand name.

The campaign, created by TBWA\London, forms part of a new £20m marketing push that includes print, digital, cinema, social, outdoor and in store.

It follows a study by Lidl which claimed that 9,000 shoppers thought the discounter’s products tasted as good or better than branded rivals. To tie in with the campaign the discounter has also launched a brand comparison website to show off the breadth of its offer and give clarity on its comparison methodology.

‘Shop a Lidl Smarter’ represents the discounter’s latest investment in promoting its product quality following the highly successful ‘Lidl Surprises’ ads and a tie up with Michelin-starred chef Kevin Love.

Lidl’s market share hit a record high 3.9% as sales grew 8.8%, according to the latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

We quizzed Pickhardt on marketing’s role within the discounter’s continued rise.

Is Lidl benefiting by placing its ad emphasis on quality?

“It is fair to say that communication across our advertising has helped to change public perception and win over the trust and loyalty of the nation. It’s also given us recognition in the industry and has set new benchmarks of advertising awareness. Proof of this is highlighted throughout market research and highly respected industry bodies such as YouGov’s BrandIndex, which highlighted Lidl as the most improved brand of 2014.

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A shot from the ‘Shop a Lidl Smarter’ campaign

“For us it’s about striking the ideal balance of both price and quality. It’s key for us to help people understand that low price does not have to mean low quality. Our business model enables us to offer customers the very best products at the lowest possible prices, and we want to help people understand this through our advertising. It’s so important that people make decisions with their tastebuds, rather than through the outer packaging of a product, which they’re ultimately having to pay for.

“At the end of the day we can offer the best prices on the market and will continue to communicate this through our advertising, whilst using real people to get across the message that the quality of our own brand products is second to none.”

Has brand perception around product quality improved thanks to Lidl this investment in premium messaging?

I would definitely say so. Our net quality ranking according on YouGov has more than trebled from September 2014, before the brand campaign launched to now. These results speak for themselves and make me extremely proud of our achievement.

“From fine French wines to fresh British meat Lidl is covering all the ranges for a weekly shop.

Arnd Pickhardt, Lidl’s marketing director

How successful has Lidl’s premium-end marketing been in helping it generate bigger baskets and more affluent shoppers?

“Since the launch of our Lidl Surprises campaign we can now firmly say that we have captured the attention of many more people across the UK, resulting in our shopper demographic having an equal share between ABC1 and C2DE customers. This is not surprising to me though, as we have a fantastic selection and are offering everything British households and families need to do their full weekly shop. From fine French wines, to fresh British meat and poultry and from cleaning essentials to cosmetics we are covering all ranges for a weekly shop.

“Since we started communicating about our expertise and the quality in different areas within our ranges, we have seen a steady increase of our basket spend over the last year period. I’m confident that with our new Shop a Lidl Smarter Campaign this will continue to rise.”

What do you make of supermarket marketing right now? YouGov Brand Index data shows ad awareness rankings are down across the market with consumers tiring of price-heavy and narrative-less ads.

“I don’t think it is my place to discuss the marketing of our competitors. However, upon reviewing the national newspapers I can see that there seems to be a pattern of a very price-led communication. I assume that consumers might find it difficult to differentiate when the focus seems to be on a very similar topic.

“I am very pleased though that our recent campaign featuring real people and their honest opinion about our products and prices seem to have created high involvement amongst shoppers overall. This is a success that we will certainly continue to build upon.”