Aldi wins two more awards for its affordable alcohol: What’s the “unassuming underdog” doing right?

Aldi

Adored German discount retailer Aldi has done it again, winning two more international awards for its alcohol offerings, this time for its whiskey and gin.

News.com.au reports Aldi recently locked down the Double Gold prize at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition for its Highland Black Eight-Year-Old Scotch Whiskey, a drop that will set shoppers back just $35 dollars.

Competition judge Adam Levy told news.com.au the whiskey was “phenomenal” for its price, with the bottle winning the prize for having “good body, nice colour and soft finish”.

The whiskey’s price point was a large contributing factor in it taking home the award, with Levy saying if the bottle was just $20 more expensive, it may have only received a silver medal.

Meanwhile, a gin available through Aldi’s UK stores won another gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. A bottle of the spirit costs shoppers just £10, or around $16.

This slew of prizes comes in the wake of a $10 bottle of Aldi rose being crowned the best value bottle in the world at the International Wine Challenge in May, leading to Australian shoppers both praising and cursing the retailer, as the drop is not yet available Down Under.

What is Aldi doing right?

While shoppers might not think of Aldi as the immediate choice for purchasing award-winning alcohol, marketing expert and founder of Belles and Whistles consultancy Janey Paton believes this may work to the brand’s advantage.

“I’ve never really considered going there for alcohol, I would just assume somewhere like Dan Murphy’s to be cheaper, but with these awards, it’s going to make people sit up and take notice,” Paton told SmartCompany.

“They’re the unassuming underdog putting up results, and if these products are significantly cheaper and better than mainstream products, word will spread. The big players will need to watch their back.”

Paton also believes the advertising around Aldi’s alcohol products is “cheeky” with “iconic” humour, and claims the brand can “do no wrong”. Aldi’s humorous branding has been vindicated before: complaints against an Aldi advertisement for scotch criticised for being “racist towards the Scottish” were dismissed by the ad watchdog last year.

Branding expert Michel Hogan says while these awards are nice for Aldi, they will work more for existing customers seeking validation, rather than getting first-time shoppers through the door.

“It paints Aldi in a positive light and it reinforces the fact they’re offering quality products at a value price. It helps validate their position,” Hogan tells SmartCompany.

“It’s probably not going to change the buying behaviour of people who haven’t tried Aldi, it’s mostly just going to make people who already shop there feel good about their choices.”

Awards “really worthwhile” for SMEs, if you can find the time

Landing international awards such as these can be a big deal, especially for businesses who may have never won one before, with Hogan calling it the equivalent of “free advertising”.

“These awards are great for small businesses who don’t have huge marketing budgets. It’s proof you’re doing well as a business and that other people recognise that,” she says.

“If you win one, the right thing to do is to talk about it, but don’t brag. There’s a big difference between talking about it and bragging about it, and there’s nothing wrong with talking if it’s an award that speaks to your brand.”

While Paton agrees that awards can be “really worthwhile”, she says it can be tricky for SMEs to find the time to apply in the first place.

“It can take a lot of work and applications to apply for these awards, and it can be really time-consuming,” she says.

“Unfortunately for a lot of small business owners time is something they don’t have the luxury of, so these things might not even factor on their radar.”

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