Shoppers may think they go to Aldi because it is cheap, but new research claiming to tap into their subconscious suggests there is a lot more to the discounter’s success - it is “simple”, “honest”, “cheerful” and “relaxed”.

Researchers at MMR asked a panel of 363 shoppers to rate six leading supermarkets consciously and subconsciously using a series of word associations, to lift the lid on the mindsets of consumers in the wake of the supermarket wars.

While shoppers painted Aldi in a positive light, its findings also highlight the challenge facing new Tesco boss Dave Lewis in his first week in the job.

Tesco was the retailer most commonly associated with the word “annoying.” It also came last when consumers were asked which supermarket they thought was most “innocent” and most “honest.”

Shoppers linked Waitrose most commonly with the words “indulgent” and “pretentious”, while Sainsbury’s was seen as “traditional” and “sociable”.

The study was not all good news for the discounters. Lidl was seen by consumers as being “tacky” and “childish”.

“It’s interesting that Lidl does not benefit from the same positive emotional association as Aldi,” said a spokeswoman for MMR. “As for Tesco, it is harder for consumers to find a hook to hang this brand on.”

However, there is one word - the ‘D’ word - that Lewis has reassured staff he is not scared of.

Tagged ‘Drastic Dave’ by The Grocer after he made cutbacks in his former role as boss of Unilever UK, Lewis said in a YouTube interview posted by Tesco this week: “It’s fine for The Grocer to focus on the degree of change, but I’d like people to recognise that once we’d made those changes, that business, to now, is on its 27th quarter of consecutive growth [after] 10 years of underperformance.”