Aldi and Lidl are attracting more posh shoppers than ever, with shoppers from the highest AB demographic now making up 31% of all shoppers at the discounters, a new study by research consultancy Him! has revealed.

That compares with 28% of shoppers who are C1, while 14% are C2 and 27% from the lowest DE demographic.

This is a huge increase on 2013 when Him! found just 12% were from the AB demographic, while 30% were C1 shoppers, 28% C2 and 30% DE. And it helps explain why upmarket Waitrose has been sucked into the price war.

“The discounters have been increasingly attracting upper middle class shoppers, who certainly weren’t using them even two years ago,” said Him! insights and communications director Katie Littler. “This means it’s not just Tesco and Asda who are at risk of losing spend to discounters - we know 29% of Waitrose shoppers will also visit an Aldi or a Lidl in a typical week.”

As one rival CEO quipped: “Iceland and Waitrose mums are going to Lidl.”

Though Aldi and Lidl are typically seen as top-up shops, Him! also found the discounters were gaining a larger share of wallets because an increasing number of shoppers were using them for their main grocery shop.

The study found 30% of shoppers at food discounters claimed they were ‘on a main shop’, versus 27% in July 2014, 22% in October 2013 and 19% in July 2013. However, top up remains the most popular mission at a discounter, with 61% of discounter shoppers using the stores for top up in a typical month.

Him!’s study also revealed fruit & veg had overtaken packaged grocery as the number one category bought at the discounters. It found 75% of shoppers bought fruit & veg on their last visit, versus 68% for packaged grocery, 67% for chilled dairy, 67% for pre-wrapped bread and 43% for frozen.

“The proportion of shoppers who now trust discounters for their main, regular shop has continued to increase over the last five years,” Littler added. “Both Aldi and Lidl have worked hard to improve their fresh ranges and, as importantly, drive credibility in their offer, too.”

But Littler said the discounters could still do better, with 15% of shoppers claiming they would never buy fresh meat or fish from a discounter, while 11% would never buy fruit & veg.

The latest Kantar data saw Aldi’s grocery share hit 5%, a new record, in the 12 weeks to 1 March. Its 19.3% sales growth was its slowest since June 2011.

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