Retail

Five business lessons from Aldi’s global award-winning $10 wine

Emma Koehn /

The International Wine Challenge has crowned an £5.99 ($10.28) six pound bottle of Aldi rosé the best value bottle in the world, and while it’s great news for shoppers who are keen on a cheap drop, the win also holds plenty of business lessons for SMEs.

The Exquisite Collection Cotes de Provence Rosé 2016 is reportedly not even sold in Australian Aldi stores, but that hasn’t stopped countless enthusiastic local shoppers taking to social media this week, feeling vindicated that their budget alcohol choices are actually quality.

And while local Aldi operations focus on store refits and an improvement of the “fresh food” offerings in stores, marketing and retail experts say the discount supermarket’s alcohol offerings play a significant role in the brand’s market positioning.

Here are five business lessons from the German retailer’s wine success.

1. Leveraging good news

Aldi’s UK arm says it’s also recently won the “Drinks Retailer of the Year” award at the nation’s Drinks Business Awards, highlighting that the discount supermarket does not skimp on “innovation” in its alcohol offerings.

Director of InsideOut PR Nicole Reaney says leveraging news like these awards is incredibly important for all businesses, given self-made claims about your business don’t stand up nearly as well as someone else saying nice things about you in this day and age.

“Aldi has been able to reinforce its quality proposition despite lower prices to a public audience. Merit awarded by third parties is seen as more credible than self-made claims and as a wine, this product lends itself to media and social conversation reaching a diverse audience,” she says.

Brand advisor Michel Hogan agrees, explaining that when awards come through that validate a shopper’s decision making, you should be playing on the satisfaction that comes with that.

“One of the hooplas around this kind of award is it does provide a nice self satisfaction bump, so like ‘huh, there you go’,” she says.

2. “Reverse snobbery”

Despite the award-winning wine not even being available right across the global Aldi network, branding experts say there’s a lot to be learned from Aldi’s ability to punch up towards luxury brands.

“It plays into this kind of mean-spirited reverse kind of thing, where people complain about wine snobs looking down their nose at them,” Hogan says.

Marketing Angels director Michelle Gamble says that across all of its branding, Aldi has been able to connect with shoppers and avoid making them feel bad about spending less.

“Some of their advertising in the past has been making a mockery of the snobs out there,” Gamble says.

“Where you have Aldi talking about, ‘Well, we’ve been working hard with our French wine maker’, there’s a sense that they’re trying to leverage these luxury triggers.”

3. Breaking the connection between price and quality

Retail expert and associate professor at Queensland University of Technology Business School, Gary Mortimer, says Aldi has succeeded in its private label offerings in a number of ways.

“They’ve got their private label quality and pricing correct for the market,” he explains.

Not only do private label offerings with fancy branding encourage shoppers to feel better about budget purchases, they also contribute more to the bottom line of an operation like Aldi, he says.

“They have a multi pronged, strategic approach to growth, but they also own the IP on about 95% of their products. They own their own brands and we know that has a good [effect] on margins,” says Mortimer.

Reaney says winning gongs like the International Wine Challenge also breaks any stigma in the customer’s mind about price and quality.

“Some consumers may be hesitant to admit to shopping at low-priced outlets, however this announcement provides reassurance that they are making a smart purchase decision,” she says.

4. Having a broader plan

Despite the buzz around booze, it’s worth understanding that for Aldi in Australia, alcohol makes up only a tiny portion of the strategy, says Mortimer.

“It’s certainly not a big space for Aldi here,” he says.

While liquor and fresh food do go hand-in-hand as the discount retailer competes with Coles and Woolworths in Australia, a good vibe around some of its alcohol offerings is only one part of a multi-level strategy.

“What keeps you coming back [in store] each week is that every week things are going to change,” Mortimer says.

Gamble agrees, observing businesses should think about the success of some Aldi products, like wine, as a possible gateway for customers into other parts of your business and offerings.

“The strategy to Aldi is get shoppers in the store first [with things like wine], and get them to buy a whole heap of bananas or something,” she says.

5. Encouraging customer sharing

Finally, discount retailers like Aldi have been successful in opening up customer conversations about their everyday lives and purchases, experts say.

Prizes like the wine award will only encourage shoppers to be more open in their relationships with the brand, through sharing bargains they find with others, says Reaney.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if more consumers share their Aldi shopping experience and product ‘finds’,” she says.

Hogan observes that for a lot of discount purchases people make, like a $10 bottle of wine, they’re often not buying “with the expectation it’s going to be spectacular”.

Instead, brands should work to leverage the satisfaction people feel over everyday bargains.

“If you can give people that sense of self satisfaction when they’re going to make a purchase, there can be a flow-on effect,” she says.

SmartCompany has contacted Aldi Australia to find out if the award-winning wine will be made available locally.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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