European grocer Lidl challenges U.S. brands in new campaign
Amid changing consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic, German supermarket chain Lidl is hoping to continue its growth streak with a new campaign to raise awareness with American shoppers. The new ad push focuses on the lower prices that Lidl, which first entered the U.S. market four years ago, says it can offer shoppers compared with more established grocery brands.
“Allowing customers to get better products, at better prices, is what Lidl is all about,” says Matthias Kympers, head of marketing at Lidl U.S., noting that as Lidl continues to expand, the “value proposition” will continue to be a focus in the company’s marketing messages.
Created with VMLY&R, named Lidl’s creative agency-of-record in November, the “Suspiciously low-priced groceries” campaign includes three spots offering conspiracy theories about why Lidl is able to sell such inexpensive products. In one commercial, a woman hypothesizes that Lidl’s croissants are secret listening devices paid for by the French government; in another spot, a man worries that Lidl trains exotic birds to smuggle in avocados from the tropics. The ads are airing on social channels and on TV in several U.S. markets served by the chain.
Lidl operates 100 U.S. locations in the East Coast and Southeast, but has national ambitions with plans to soon add 50 locations.
Despite conspiracy theories getting a little too much mainstream attention, the campaign’s creators expect that its humorous take, along with the low-priced messaging, will still set Lidl apart.
“Advertising for grocery stores in the U.S. is traditionally just pack and price,” said Noel Cottrell, chief creative officer at VMLY&R in a statement. “‘Suspiciously low-priced groceries’ is something fun, and a little different for our new brave global client.”
That selling point has done well for Lidl in its traditional markets overseas, according to Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director at Strategic Resource Group.
“They do a tremendous job in really socializing and communicating how they’ve raised the standard of living for families,” he says, noting a campaign in Ireland that focused on how supermarket savings could help improve a family’s future. He said the challenge for Lidl is explaining that low prices doesn’t mean “proverbial garbage quality.” Lidl often uses its packaging to help display local origins, for example.
Flickinger says that COVID-19, which led to surging grocery demand resulting in empty shelves of well-known American markets, helped Lidl, and Aldi, another European chain focused on U.S. growth, gain traction with U.S. consumers.
“Consumers went to so many stores that they’d grown up shopping, from Target to Walmart to the supermarket sector and came up empty,” he says. “Once they started shopping Lidl and Aldi, they changed their shopping patterns to save money.”
Such changes are helping Lidl make its mark. The brand was recently named No. 1 on the National Retail Federation’s list of the 100 fastest-growing retail companies. According to the NRF, Lidl grew its U.S. sales 69% to $1.1 billion between 2019 and 2018.
Lidl is also known for looking at advertising in a different way than its rivals, according to Flickinger.
“Instead of looking at advertising as an expense, the way 99.5% of the U.S. food retailers do, Lidl looks at advertising and 360-degree consumer communication as an investment to profitably grow market share and profitably grow sales,” he says.
It will need such an investment as it continues to build its brand in the crowded supermarket landscape. Earlier this week, Target announced the appointment of Rick Gomez, who had been CMO, to chief food and beverage officer, illustrating the retail giant’s commitment to the category as a growth driver for the company.