Can I start by saying (again) what a wonderful professional community this is; ever so supportive. And such a wealth of insights, recommendations and thoughts! Thank you everyone who provided background for my article. As promised, here is a very brief summary – please note this is a subjective compilation and not a result of a proper market research study:
You either love, or loathe Lidl – somebody likened Lidl to Marmite, and “there is none more zealous than recently converted”.
Lidl is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.
While some criticise its limited offer, others find it liberating – you don’t spend ages looking for what you need and are less likely to overbuy. People tend to shop in Lidl for basics, and top up elsewhere. This saves a lot of money. And everybody seems to love the middle aisle aka ‘the aisle of dreams’.
The Big Unknown
Some people know Lidl from holiday/living abroad, this perhaps waters down the stigma of ‘unknown’ (or foreign) a bit.
‘I love trying out food the name of which I cannot even pronounce’
By the way, it was the former Lidl UK’s CEO (a German guy) who said that the secret of their success in the UK was ‘to learn not to be so German’. Sums it up!
It’s a Status Thing
Lidl has gained a cult status in the UK – inverted snobbery? (I can confirm the same is going on in the Czech Republic). Social status has been pointed out. If you are aspirational, Lidl is tabu and you cannot be seen there. My experience: several years back, I met my lovely neighbour at Lidl. He is British, a retired arts teacher. Active painter, represented in our local art gallery. Very active in local community, sings in a choir etc. He was clearly embarrassed by being seen there and felt it necessary to stress that he just popped in to grab a couple of things. This particular angle I thought was very UK specific?
In-Store Customer Experience
ills & queues seem to be a big issue: the frantic speed cashiers scan items can be stressful for shoppers, and not everyone enjoys self-service check outs. There are usually not enough people around the shop to ask for assistance and those who are there seem to be under pressure. Others mention though that in their particular store, staff are very attentive. I can relate to that: my elderly neighbour always says that when she is at the check-outs, one of the staff always help her to put everything into her bag.
Issues can possibly be related to a particular store and management. In our local Lidl (the old one, as we now have two stores in Bedford the staff retention is very good, I see familiar faces every time I shop there, with people working there since it opened. The manager is always around advising staff and overlooking things.
Parking seems to be an issue at some stores. Also the parking charges.
Quality & Sustainability
Some of Lidl’s products are sub-standard: someone mentioned Easter eggs and an issue with own brand cheese. Generally though, there seems to be an agreement that the quality of food has improved.
t has also been noted that Lidl increased the share of UK-produce (this is a fact: in 2010, only 30 percent of products were British, in 2016 it raised to 65 percent). Lidl is gaining positive points with their organic, UK-based produce, freshness of fruit and veg, working with UK farmers, free-from range etc.
They were the first supermarket to scrap black plastic from fruit and veg packaging (as black plastic cannot be recycled in the UK).
While some people love Lidl’s home brands, others find them unappealing. There were some comments that Bsometimes their packaging is too similar to a well-known brand and it is easy to be mistaken.
Wages & Employee Welfare
For wages, according to rankings I found, Lidl is not the best paying supermarket, but it is not the worst either. It’s somewhere in the middle. But we all agree that working in a supermarket, and not just in Lidl, is a pretty tough job.
Mental note to myself: always show appreciation to the staff in our local store. Small things matter.