Do Shoppers Want an Upmarket New Look From Aldi?

By Chris Averill, CEO & Founder

February 28, 2015    3 mins

Aldi provides the best broccoli. I’m not joking, it really does. Aldi also provides the best customer service, it listens to what its customers want, and what we want is good quality products at low prices. In my opinion, Aldi currently has one of the best customer experiences across all the supermarkets.

As such I read with great interest that Aldi has unveiled new-look, upmarket stores with fresh produce, well-known brands and in-store bakeries. But it makes me question whether this is what consumers are looking for from the Aldi brand.

Aldi seem to have an innate understanding of what its customers are looking for. It knows that the modern consumer is cost savvy and isn’t taken in by obvious brand promotion. As such, it sells top-quality produce that is easily on par with other high-end retail supermarkets but at a reduced price. The downside to Aldi’s offering is that it is irregular, it has fillet steak at bargain bin prices one week but next time you go into the store, this will have been replaced by lobster thermidor. You can’t go in expecting to buy the same products from Aldi every week at the same price. Its customer experience model is founded on surprising the customer, offering new and exciting products every time consumers go in.

I wonder whether a new upmarket look could get in the way of that. The consumer expects a simple yet functional store from Aldi. Its USP is founded on offering a no-nonsense shopping experience, distancing itself from the smoke and mirrors of stores such as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. I question whether shoppers will feel that Aldi is changing, becoming similar to its bigger rivals.

The most important question is will an upmarket look give Aldi the power it needs to start taking on competitors such as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose? I wouldn’t like to say for certain but it’s certainly happened before. 20 years ago Woolworths was at the height of its growth and Poundland was the cheaper, smaller competitor, but the second Woolworths started to falter Poundland snuck in and took over the majority of its stores. Now there’s a Poundland on every high-street and Woolworths has gone bust. Whether Aldi’s growth will be quite as dramatic remains to be seen but with the big name supermarkets in retreat it certainly stands a chance.