Aldi caused something of a stir towards the end of last month as it ran its first ever TV advert in Germany. But it’s not the fact that the supermarket has finally released an ad in its country of birth that has got tongues wagging.
No, there are loud whispers among the retail industry because the ad doesn’t contain any products. Or BOGOF offers. Or celebrities grinning from ear to ear with a platter of prawns in one hand and bottle of cava in the other.
Instead, Aldi has delivered 47 seconds of a group of children jumping into a lake, running through a forest, having a good time and generally just being kids.
I don’t speak German so had to rely on a translation to understand what the child narrator says, which includes: “Children don’t need much to be happy… We don’t write emails – we just talk to each other… and we don’t need a supermarket that’s so big you don’t know what to buy.”
The last of these messages is particularly telling in a market where price has traditionally been the battleground, not least driven in recent years by Aldi’s very own prominence in leading the ‘rise of the discounters’.
Engaging with customers on an emotional level has arguably never been more important. Aldi looks to be aiming squarely at the time poor parent with an image of the perfect childhood, and by doing so has arguably managed to disrupt the traditional model of supermarket advertising.
Building our marketing strategies on connections, experiences and emotional ‘transactions’ as Aldi is looking to do gives us a way of differentiating ourselves from the competition. Why talk about price when we could focus on experience instead?
I attended an event recently where Jonah Berger, author of New York Times best-seller Contagious: Why Things Catch On, discussed his framework for why certain marketing campaigns go viral (‘catch on’).
Berger emphasised that marketing messages with an emotional component are much more likely to be shared. He underlined the importance of turning customers into advocates by engaging with them at an emotional level, highlighting that this would provide marketers with the best and largest sales team they would ever need.
What Aldi has done particularly well is to recognise that despite the exponential growth of online commerce, the experience of visiting a supermarket with the smell of freshly baked bread and kaleidoscope of colours will always be there.
The key for Aldi, and for all marketers regardless of the industry we operate in, is to make sure that this experience is built on an emotional level and not focused solely on price, size or to some degree even service.