Asda marketing boss lauds rival Aldi’s ‘gritty’ marketing

Asda’s marketing director has held up rival Aldi’s marketing as a great example of how to connect with the key mum demographic, praising its ‘realness, grittiness and humour’ that helps it resonate with customers. 

Speaking at the Mumstock 2014 event in London today (23 April), Asda’s marketing director Chris McDonough said Aldi’s marketing, which focuses around its “Swap and Save” scheme and value messaging, “drives some of Asda’s thinking”. Asda last year announced plans to focus more of its marketing on the quality of its food offering, while chief executive Andy Clarke told Marketing Week the supermarket’s advertising would be “more creative” this year.

McDonough said: “One company we have an aspiration towards is Aldi. Some of the cutting edge brutality [of their marketing] really resonates with mums. The comparisons with brands and quality message they deliver in a simple, compelling way.”

Aldi has seen double-digit sales growth over the past year, with much of that increase coming at the expense of rivals including Asda. Its market share, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, stood at 4.6 per cent for the 12 weeks to 30 March, up 35.3 per cent.

By comparison, Asda’s sales fell by 0.5 per cent to give it a market share of 17.4 per cent. Supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons and Asda have all announced price investments, with Asda pledging to spend £1bn over the next five years, in an attempt to mitigate the rise of the discounters.

McDonough also highlighted Aldi’s ability to characterise different members of the family – such as a father and son or grandmother – in a way that has a “real sense of humour”.

However, speaking on the same panel, Richard Huntington, Saatchi & Saatchi’s director of strategy, said the marketing community remains “petrified” of portraying diversity, still featuring ads with “white women in kitchens”. McDonough accepted the criticism, but said brands remain wary of embracing alternative family set-ups for fear of being “tokenistic”.

He added that diversity must be portrayed in a way that reflects reality, rather than for the sake of it.

“We have to be meaningful and credible and do it in a way that connects with the audience because if not it will be alienating…”, he said.

Alliance Boots’ chief marketing officer Elizabeth Fagan said brand and marketers’ attitudes towards portraying diversity need to change, shifting away from it being viewed as a brave thing to do to something that just simply represents modern life.

“It has to fit with the brand that’s doing it. At the right time in the right way. It will naturally happen,” she said. 

Read about the five myths of marketing to mums and how to bust them here. 

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