The conventional wisdom about why the hard discounters have failed to capture the hearts and wallets of British consumers is that they under-estimated the way the established UK players would respond to their arrival on these shores. This, coupled with a failure to find enough sites, has ensured Aldi & Co's market share has remained tiny.
But there's another reason why things have not gone well for the hard discounters. Their obsessive secrecy and poor marketing skills have ensured that even while they operate on a national level, they still have little or no public profile. And I believe that policy will ensure they remain for ever on the fringes of the retail scene.
When they first arrived, of course, things were very different. The discounters were seen as the consumers' champion ­ here to drive down prices.
But after this initial flurry of publicity, they reverted to type and retreated into their shells ­ apparently believing that sporadic advertising and word of mouth recommendations was all they needed to drive shoppers into their stores.
And, yes, it does work ­ up to a point. But it will never be enough to persuade people to desert completely the glittering lights of their local Asda or Tesco, where prices are low, service is high and the choice enormous.
It's difficult to see why the hard discounters have failed to grasp that pretty simple concept after all these years of operating in the highly competitive UK market. They need to work hard to give people a good reason to go into their stores. And as our feature starting on page 28 highlights, one of the discounters is doing just that by focusing heavily on upgrading the quality of both its product and retail offers.
That chain ­ Aldi ­ is committed to this process. Yet most consumers remain blissfully unaware of what it has to offer, despite all the awards and a handful of rave reviews by food writers on the national press.
It begs an obvious question: what's the point of having all these quality items on your shelves if nobody knows about it?