A ripple of excited gossip spread through our traditional and affluent Hampshire village last week, of an excited intensity not witnessed since Colin Firth nearly bought my neighbours’ house…..“Aldi have come to Winchester!”
The retailer’s latest sales figures show not only an enviable 30% year on growth, but also reveal that an important tipping point has been reached; it is now used by many not only for bargains and its intriguing continental products, but for their main weekly shop.
The edited range may not be as wide as its rivals offer but it meets most needs, and there is also something very appealing about not being confronted by the tyranny of choice. Importantly, that range includes many items which are not simply good value alternatives to big brands but which are often actually preferred to them. The word on the village street is that Aldi’s gin, skincare, potato snacks and alcoholic ginger beer, to name but a few favourites, are unsurpassed in price and quality.
This is supported by the brand’s funny, quirky but highly product-focused ads, and the media buzz and awards it attracts. And then there’s the time and stock limited special buys which add to the serendipity of the shopping experience. (I speak as the delighted new owner of a cast iron bird feeder, a snip at £5, ‘when it’s gone it’s gone’…)
Retailers and brands owners who commission research are still too frequently leaving Aldi out of their competitive set considerations, because in statistical terms it currently remains a comparatively small player. But those who ignore Aldi do so at their peril, because there is much to learn from what makes it such a compelling proposition. Those who think that Aldi is all about price and novelty have missed the point and may also be missing out on the bigger picture. What’s making it a destination store for many is its combination of great value, unique must-buy products, and an often joyous shopping experience, in stores that are created on a manageable human scale. And there are valuable learnings to be gained from its success story.