My Star of 2014

Brands have dominated a lot of the business news over the last year. On the one hand there have been some pretty huge successes and on the other some catastrophic failures.

2014 saw the continued demise of the Retail brand with Phones 4 U and La Senza both exiting the High St where as online brands dominated yet again with Amazon increasing both their product and service offer.

But for me there has been a clear star that has literally changed peoples perceptions overnight and become one of the most successful brands in the UK. Aldi.

I remember Aldi from my student days, offering me the most cost effective way to sustain some form of nutrition so I could preserve more available funds for essential nights out. They were a means to an end, no frills, basic essentials that had a clear market position. And that’s where most people thought they would stay.

Little did we know that years later the Sainsburys and Waitrose shopper would be taking their own plastic bags and filling them with Aldi’s finest. It has truly been a transformation like no other.

But the success of Aldi has signified more than just an alternative, cost effective way to enjoy quality food, it has changed the way we shop and has changed our mentality of brand loyalty.

Shopper behavior has traditionally been set by demographic, people shop where they can afford to shop. But as the recession hit, everyone felt the impact and we all looked for ways to save money without compromising on quality. The Aldi effect has created a new behavior pattern in shopping trends.

As shoppers we now have less loyalty to one or two brands. We are happy to forego the ease of shopping under one roof and have become quite happy to shop around, mixing bargain products with mid to high end brands. This has had a huge impact on the ‘one stop shop’ concept of Tesco who have again announced a fall in profit for the second year running.

We are also happy to say we are saving money… we are proud to brag about that bargain dress from Primark or that 2 course for £9.99 deal in Pizza Express. The Aldi reusable bag has become a regular feature on the High St no longer hidden inside a Sainsburys Bag.

The Aldi effect has also forced us to compromise on the actual shopping experience. I mean lets face it, the stores are not exactly salubrious and throwing your groceries into the trolley at the end of the checkout isn’t the most enjoyable way to pack your bags. But we all accept this. We are happy to forego the bells and whistles and embrace the concept of no frills shopping.

So what does 2015 have in store for our best loved brands.

Well I predict it’s going to be a year of ‘hard graft’ for brands to keep alive and maintain customer loyalty. As we’ve seen with Amazon they have constantly evolved their product, service and overall brand experience. But they’ve been successful because they have understood their market and their audience and stayed connected with them. Aldi have transformed their entire profile to fill a gap in a market that we all thought was pretty sewn up! Both of these brands have evolved and have maintained a connection with their audience.

Most people would assume that with the growing number of media channels it would be easier keeping in touch with your customers. But it actually means you have to work harder. For example Social Media is a great channel for keeping you constantly connected to your audience but you have keep it current and unique. How many Twitter feeds do we scan through because there is nothing of any real interest other than the standard, ‘how is everyone today? or copying another persons Tweet and re tweeting it.

Establishing a brand is one thing but making sure it connects in a relevant and distinct way with it’s consumer is another.

But if a company is built on a solid brand platform that…

  • Differentiates itself in the marketplace
  • Captures the true essence of what it stands for
  • Is believed by it’s people as well as it’s customers
  • Stays in touch with it’s audience
  • Evolves and diversifies

…then it makes the chances of survival and growth much more promising.

Best wishes to all you brands out there and if any of you would like to meet up in the new year please get in touch.

We wish you all a prosperous and happy 2015.

Kerry Howl

01925 236 139