Discounter Aldi is stepping up its pressure on the major players in the Irish market with its first TV advertising campaign since it moved into the Republic more than a decade ago.

The retailer is using the same 'Change your supermarket, not your lifestyle' message launched in the UK last year, for the ad featuring price cuts on fruit and veg. The initiative is designed to ensure cash-strapped consumers continue to switch to the discount chain in increasing numbers.

Almost seven out of 10 Irish households now shop at Aldi or Lidl, according to TNS, and the two have built combined market share of more than 7%. Market leader Tesco has already responded to the challenge, taking its 'biggest discounter' campaign to Ireland in its latest advertising.

Latest figures from the Irish Advertising Institute underline the financial firepower of Tesco. Last year, it was the Irish market leader in advertising spend, at €22m. SuperValu, the Musgrave-owned franchise chain, was next with €18m, while Dunnes spent €12m. In contrast, the Lidl advertising bill was €6.4m, with Aldi spending just €2.5m.

Tesco's marketing director in Ireland, Kenny Jacobs, acknowledged that Aldi and Lidl "are having their moment in the sun". As limited-range discounters, they were currently in the right place at the right time, he said. "But we are all reacting by reducing our prices on own brands and the premium brands that customers want."