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June 26th, 2015
Lidl : Coming Of Age
by Myles Ritson

There’s a new kid getting respect on the retail block – just they’re not new. Lidl has been here in the UK for 21 years, but now it’s come of age with a booming business, surging public opinion, new stores galore and a thrashing of Waitrose & the gang at the Grocer of the Year Awards.

Lidl coming of age with booming business

Lidl has come out of its recessive shadows with blossoming confidence, just as Canadians have started putting their flag on the outside of their rucksacks now with the recognition that their way was right all along and USA really wasn’t as smart as it thought it was.

The brand has come of age because its business model and culture have now come into harmony with the changing values of British consumers.

Lidl’s brilliantly efficient Teutonic business model allows it to deliver on its ethos – to create access to affordable quality. The now decade-old rocketing trend , scrimping in some areas to splurge on others, initially drove many shoppers into Lidl just for permissible compromise essentials. But as Millennial mentality has spread beyond its generation, a chunk of the nation has adopted that beautifully unreasonable “Why Cant I” mindset.

Lidl responded as only it could – you Can have the nicer things in life without compromising on the essentials. A cake kept and eaten.

Having genuine business model and ethos that comes of age with consumer trends means you do better but doesn’t guarantee you do great. The have poured fuel on the fire brilliantly. The TBWA “Lidl Surprises” campaign makes no logical sense (you can’t compare a restaurant bill with a raw material cost!) but that’s not the point. It leverages Britains obsession with the genuine transparency of real reality tv people to persuade us all that the quality at Lidl isnt just passable, its almost impossibly good. Then Michelin starred chef Kevin Love, former Lidl manager, tells us for real that its all about the ingredients and Lidl’s are brilliant. The neutral restaurant guests tell us its true. Kevin Love has been inside and says its true. So it is.

With its tail up, Lidl then pursues its passion for accessible quality with a string of investments on strategy Own Label NPD in fresh, bakery, chilled and……..premium. Its not a cheap alternative to the real thing – it is the real thing.
So what can other retailers learn from Lidl?
Firstly, work out what your purpose is – what do you really believe in? People like brands with a point of view, a reason why they exist.

Secondly, watch for waning trends and their new replacements. The Arora Brothers’ B&M spotted recession coming and threw everything into expansion while others wilted – they believed people deserved “big brands at sensational prices” even when thing things were tight. A nation used to having everything now felt cheated in recession – nobody wants to go backwards and B&M knew that.

Thirdly, when you see a spark, pour petrol on it. The millennial mindset no longer belongs to the kids – they’ve grown up and their values have spread. The nation loves to see energy, entrepreneurialism with a conscience and people excited about what they do. Britain likes to see previously underdog businesses like Lidl do well.

Finally, if you’re a small new retail business like the brilliant HISBE, the world is ready for you. Just as craft beers have gone from quirky gimmicks to megacorp threatening movements, your time has come.

Talking Retail
22nd June