From a ‘claret offensive’ to an ‘ale assault’. This week Lidl added more than 60 beers to its range – promoting them, as you’d expect, at a lower price than that of its large supermarket rivals.
It follows the company’s big focus on wine last year, which led to a 40% increase in sales.
They’ve even roped in a reasonably priced star, in thunderously middle-class friend-of-David Cameron and preening rock star Alex James, the bassist in Blur, to support the launch.
The range includes nationally recognised names like Old Speckled Hen and Bishops Finger, as well as handpicked craft beers. It’s aimed, as too was their wine investment, at more affluent shoppers.
Craft beer, as my colleague Sarah Parsons pointed out last week is an absolute essential. The Office of National Statistics backed this up by adding it to its essential goods basket back in March. As more and more pubs offer more and more unique craft brews, punters will be looking locally to find them to consume them at home.
Let Lidl argue about price all they want. They may well grow their own sales of craft ales. But this could have a positive effect on convenience sales. Last week I met with a wholesale national account manager for a big national alcohol supplier.
“We have seen that sales of certain products go up in convenience stores when local supermarkets use them as a loss leader,” he told me.
“There’s a definite correlation. Small stores can’t compete on price, but they definitely pick up when supermarkets introduce that sort of deal. It’s almost like the supermarket deals act as advertising.”
In other words, if they’re doing it, so should you. They might win on price. But “value” isn’t just about price. It’s about convenience, service and the shopping experience.
Lidl is launching an “ale assault” backed by a member of Blur. Some Might Say that convenience should offer an Oasis of calm amidst such superficial supermarket price wars. A great range, and you’ll Live Forever.