Are You Ready For The Impact?
On June 15 Lidl’s first stores in the United States, six locations in North Carolina, opened and just about every retailer I know has already hopped on a plane and checked them out. The German chain is doing its utmost to shed the Aldi “me-too” image.
Lidl is pulling out all the stops to differentiate itself here in the U.S. from the fierce competition from Aldi that the chain faces in Europe. In New York City, Lidl's CEO introduced its products, both fresh and packaged, to the food consumer and trade press. The presentation and foods were extraordinary, according to press reports, and unusual for a company that traditionally shies away from the press.
To consumers one of the most impactful factors that will further differentiate Lidl from Aldi is the glitzy and modern exterior design of the U.S. stores, clearly setting it apart from its more-plain and boxy competitor and its low-price image.
It appears that Lidl, although still hitting hard on its value message, is attempting to augment this with an array of fresh and prepared foods that up until now Aldi has not been focused on. Lidl has also learned from its European employee practices and is taking a much more high-profile recruitment positioning, even offering career guides and videos on its website. “We need people like you to make Lidl possible. We're hiring movers and shakers with a can-do attitude to help put our brand on the map. Looking to make a move or start your career with a rapidly growing company?” It doesn't sound like the Lidl that Europe knows.
The company announced that German-born supermodel Heidi Klum would be selling her fashion line exclusively in Lidl stores during their “fashion weeks” throughout the year, a move with precedence and success (no word on whether she will be severing her relationship with Bloomingdale’s, which currently sells her lingerie). Another indication that Lidl wants to change its dour EU image for one here that is trendy and appealing to a different demographic. A demographic that loves food, wants to stay on trend and demands good value – younger Millennials and Generation Z characteristics.
Another move to endear themselves to these two generations is its positioning in wine. Last month Lidl won 104 medals at the Indy Independent Wine Competition, which followed winning 101 medals at the LA International Wine Competition earlier this year.
Walmart, Amazon and just about every other grocery retailer is testing smaller format stores and while on the surface this may seem like a thorn for Lidl, it will be their positioning of their own store brands that will resonate with the younger generations who see no difference between the more expensive national brands and their value driven high quality store brands. Let’s not forget that Lidl was able to research Aldi’s customer base, product selection and merchandising and develop their own strategy.