One of the big news stories in UK retail last year was the massive growth of discount grocery stores Lidl and Aldi.

Lidl’s success can be at least in part attributed to its neat #LidlSurprises campaign, which managed to change its brand image by cleverly challenging the public’s perception of its products.

Keen-eyed Econsultancy readers will be aware that I’ve already sung this campaign’s praises in a previous post, but I thought it was worth revisiting to see how it has developed in the intervening months.

It involves a smart narrative where the brand’s voice is handed over to Lidl’s customers, so the ads appear to be natural testimonials.

It has effectively created a brilliant brand campaign by combining word-of-mouth marketing and customer reviews.

Read on to find out how Lidl has weaved the narrative through its various marketing channels, and for more on this topic read my posts on how Zady and Jaeger uses storytelling in their marketing.

Website

There’s no avoiding #LidlSurprises on the company’s website.

The campaign hashtag is splashed across the top of the page and the sidebars include tweets praising the retailer’s products and low, low prices.

In keeping with the light-hearted tone of the campaign, many of the tweets poke fun at Lidl’s reputation for stocking cheaper, low quality items.

For example:

  • “My boyfriend’s incredibly posh mum refers to Lidl as her ‘wine merchant’ with genuine pride.”
  • “Man discovers tastiest steak ever was bought from Lidl.”

It’s quite subtle, but the use of comments from genuine customers really adds to the campaign message.

Lidl’s ‘About Us’ section includes a page describing the campaign – clearly the retailer is very proud of its marketing efforts.

It features two of the campaign videos which allow its customers to tell the story of the brand.

That said, the copy does massively contradict itself by saying the company has “handed the voice of Lidl over to the people who matter” before heaping praise on its own product and services in the very next paragraph. 

TV and YouTube

Lidl’s TV ads were generally well-received and scored a good reaction on social media.

People were impressed by the brand’s self-effacing approach and the ad’s clever trickery.

More than half of the videos on Lidl’s YouTube channel have been uploaded as part of the current campaign, which shows how revolutionary this new digital approach is for the retailer.

However, a lot of the ads have proven to be quite unpopular online, racking up just a few thousand YouTube views. Some have even failed to reach 1,000.

It’s obviously not all bad. Some of the videos have been watched more than 50,000 times, while the Christmas ad has just over 1m views.

Regardless of their popularity, the ads all tie into the overall narrative of the #LidlSurprises campaign.

The basic template is that members of the public express surprise at the quality of Lidl’s products.

My personal favourite is the one where a posh couple are shocked that some quail they’ve just eaten was actually quite tasty. 

Other social channels

I’ve previously compared Lidl and Aldi’s social marketing efforts, and to be honest I wasn’t hugely impressed by either of them.

Since December the content on Lidl’s Facebook page has mostly focused on recipe ideas, product suggestions and a bit of fitness advice to coincide with people’s New Year resolutions.

#LidlSurprises was mentioned fairly regularly last autumn but it seems to have lost momentum recently. Maybe the campaign has just come to a natural end?

Well that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case on Twitter, where the hashtag is still a common feature.

In fact it appeared just this morning in a tweet about Lidl’s sustainably sourced fish.

There are also occasional variations on the theme, with #HealthySurprises being used to promote fitness products and healthy foods.

Lidl frequently retweets other users who mention the brand or use the #LidlSurprises hashtag. It also responds to a huge number of @mentions from other users, both positive and negative.

This ranges from questions about products, complaints about service in-store, or just people mentioning the fact that they’ve shop in Lidl. 

In-store

The #LidlSurprises story also features in the retailer’s stores.

As well as appearing in print ads, positive tweets that use the #LidlSurprises hashtag have been prominently displayed in-store.

Many of these fit with the light-hearted theme of the campaign, as they include people expressing their surprise that they bought something half-decent from Lidl.

I even noticed that the hashtag appears on Lidl’s outdoor signage (e.g. on the signs in the carpark), which goes to show the all-encompassing nature of the #LidlSurprises story.