Why Shoppers are Winning

“There’s a hotline to head office over there”, the checkout assistant mentioned, helpfully. I must have looked confused, but he then explained that a dedicated phone connected directly to the customer service department who would be able to immediately answer my question about when ski gear would arrive in store. Where am I? Lidl of course.

You see, we have decided to go on a ski-ing holiday. As I’m the only person in the family who has done this before I do have ski gear but I’m not sure I want to subject the slopes (or my family) to the all in one orange jumpsuit ensemble purchased in Lillywhites in London way back when. That is, if I even still fitted into it. So new kit it is, but how will we do this on a budget? Lidl of course.

Divine Discounters

Like many, we have become converts to the exceptionally good value the chain provides. We don’t buy all our groceries there, but visit regularly most weeks, topping up on our favourite items and checking out the smorgasbord of useful household stuff in the middle aisles. And this is, according to the latest research from HIM – a shopping behaviour consultancy – where discounters such as Lidl and Aldi really make their mark.

Lidl, Brunswick Street, Dublin 7

While traditional multiple retail stores such as Tesco and Supervalu still dominate the market in Ireland (with discounters a close second), the top up “mission” or reason to shop is growing, highlighting the ability of discount stores to attract more shoppers. In fact, over 1 in 3 shoppers in Ireland state that a top up shop is their main reason for visiting a particular store.

Little and Often

Shoppers are choosing to shop little and often rather than conduct a weekly bulk shop. With greater focus being placed on reducing food wastage, it is often quicker and more efficient to visit regularly for a handful of items. Discounters are particularly well placed to meet this need, with easily navigated stores and a more straightforward product range.

Discounters are viewed very favourably by shoppers. Aside from the obvious price perception, they are over delivering in areas such as baked goods and fresh produce, and manage to delight customers on many different levels.

Non Grocery Items

When I consider all the non grocery items that we have purchased recently in Lidl – car seats for the children (a bargain at €10 each), a vegetable chopper (the vegetables are mostly being pulverised, but still..), a tablet (works great), a turbo brush (so long, pet hair) – you can see why they have grown to be Ireland’s largest discounter (11.8% market share, compared with Aldi’s 11.6%).

Competitive Grocery Market

Ireland’s grocery market is fiercely competitive and actually one of the most concentrated in Europe. The latest grocery market share figures from market research company Kantar, show that just half a percentage point separates the leading three retailers. Tesco leads the way, registering 22.1% of grocery sales, followed by SuperValu at 21.7% and Dunnes Stores at 21.6%. This healthy competition is good news for shoppers, leading to a fall in the price of food and drink across Ireland. Across all Irish grocery market channels, footfall is widely spread, with shoppers utilising supermarkets, discounters, convenience stores and forecourts.

Dunnes Stores, Stephens Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2

In the HIM research 2,200 respondents were asked to rank stores across a number of metrics based on their recent experience. Tesco, Dunnes and Supervalu rank highest for ease of shop, but fell behind the rest when it came to a hot drink offer. Discounters provide good value but need to work on their food to go offer. Convenience stores are praised for the friendliness of their staff, but the fresh meat and fish offer could be improved. Forecourts deliver on hot drinks but have a limited range of food products on offer.

Fresh Supermarket, Smithfield, Dublin 7

Self-checkouts, click & collect and online delivery are ways that some retailers have enhanced their experience and tailored it to the modern fast-paced consumer. Also by focusing on in-store theatre, destination concepts, feature bakeries and stand-out deli counters.

Bakery in Lidl, North King Street

As for the ski-gear, we can expect it in store this side of Christmas.

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