Lidl 26

“People have been talking about us. But we don’t mind. In fact, we like to stand out from the crowd.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to read this quote in relation to almost any fcmg or retail brand – the fact that people are talking about you and that most of this chatter is positive is a marketing department’s dream come true.

The only surprising thing is that this quote is from Lidl, as part of a 12-page pull-out that was inserted across the major national newspapers this weekend.

As a journalist who has covered the UK grocery sector for more than a decade, the transformation in the German discounters has been quite extraordinary. We all know these two retailers have now established themselves as serious players in the UK grocery sector. According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, Aldi has a 4.8% share of the market and Lidl 3.6%.

While the growth has clearly been impressive, it is the switch in personality of these retailers that has been one of the most striking aspects, with Lidl in particular finally appearing to undergone a sort of glasnost.

Many year ago, while working in Northern Ireland, I was attempting to compile a directory of grocery stores in the province. The only information I required was the number of stores – but trying to get this number out of Lidl at the time was like pulling teeth.

A few years back, a colleague from The Grocer had a meeting in Lidl’s offices with, ironically enough, someone in a communications role who would not disclose the name of the person running the UK business at the time.

So, Lidl being all about the talking is surprising, but importantly, it’s a reflection of a very different business. Today, Lidl in the UK is a business that knows what its customers want and has a clear strategy to deliver that.

Its new Lidl Surprises campaign, of which the newspaper ads is a part of, is bold and confident, something which many observers have been looking for the likes of Tesco and Morrisons to deliver. The problem for those retailers, however, is a serious lack of that confidence.

Lidl’s plan is working, it is too early to tell if Morrisons’ strategy will work or not, while Tesco is still searching for the best way forward with new boss Dave Lewis having just got his feet under the table.

So it is certainly good to hear from Lidl, hopefully the communication lines will remain in place even at times when things are not going quite as well as they are right now.