March 1, 2017

Aldi cyberises logo prior to China online entry

Aldis new logo (photo: Aldi Süd)
Sign of the times: Out with the old and in with the Asian online new
Women can fascinate by changing the way they look every day, if they so please, but big retailers are under a different set of constraints. Tinkering with the corporate logo can be a dangerous game because customers generally expect consistency from their local shop.

Small wonder then that grocers generally opt for a conservative approach when it comes to design and optics. In the past, few retailers were more conservative than Aldi Süd (Aldi South), but the German discount giant has become noticeably more adventurous on its home market over the last two or three years.

The new buzz is multifacetted and can be seen, for instance, in plans for an online shop in the People's Republic of China this spring. Soon shoppers in Old Europe, Donald Trump country, and Oz will also be greeted by a company sign worthy of our exciting new cyber age.

Aldis online shop in China (source: screenshot from Aldi website)
Screenshot of Aldi's new online shop in China
The soft launch of the Chinese digital flagship is scheduled for March 20 on Tmall Global, a B2C e-commerce platform operated by local online giant Alibaba who will also provide marketing support. The "grand opening" will be on April 25 in Shanghai's Free Trade Zone where the operator, Aldi Business Information Consultancy Co. Ltd, has its base.

This will be the first time Aldi has entered a foreign country without first opening a physical store. Country manager Christoph Schwaiger is convinced that "Chinese customers will be highly interested in the quality and low prices that Aldi has to offer".

Alibaba Europe manager Terry von Bibra stresses that the Chinese middle-classes are becoming increasingly interested in products "Made in Germany". However Aldi will primarily source fmcg products for this rapidly growing market of 415 million online customers from its suppliers in Australia.

Aldi China online shop products (photo: Aldi China)
Key products: Available soon in China
As befits a no-frills discounter, Aldi's Chinese website (www.aldi.com.cn) is thoroughly unpretentious although it does sport the new corporate logo. Five product categories (breakfast, snacks, wine, organic and cooking) are presented with photos and with short texts in both English and Chinese under the strapline "Handpicked for you".

The offer is garnered with a little information about the secretive, privately-run business, including "10,000 stores" and "100 years". This is not bad going for a company that didn't become a discounter in the modern sense until 1963.

Historical overview of Aldi logos (source: Aldi South)
Retail evolution: A historical overview of Aldi logos since 1948
But, if one follows the family tradition back to the opening of a very first Mom & Pop store in 1913, then Aldi can legitimately call itself a centenarian. This is savvy marketing in a country that still reveres its ancestors.

As we await March 20 and April 25 for more details regarding the online shop, we must temporarily make do with the corporate splurge about the new logo. Here we learn that the discounter was assisted by brand and design company illion.markensocieaet. The colours have been slightly changed to red, blue, cyan, yellow and orange.

A newly revamped store at Aldi South (photo: Hans Rudolf Schulz)
Even fresher: Hardly has Aldi South revamped its storebase than it will have to change all its signs again
The design – the first new one in eleven years – certainly looks more rounded, dynamic and modern with a distinctly cyber touch. Aldi South's Communications Director Kirsten Geß writes that the logo mirrors "the continuous development of our assortment, the new design of our stores, or special offers such as the forthcoming pop-up store 'Meine Weinwelt' (My Wine World)".

What the company doesn't write is that Germany's most profitable discounter is fighting on all fronts to dynamise sales, which don't seem to have increased in 2016. Efforts include a big revamp of all its 1,860 German stores by the end of 2019; a considerable increase in the number of brands within the assortment; and a comprehensive reorientation of its own-label offer.*

The new logo will be introduced successively to all nine countries within the Aldi South group as from this June. It is fitting that it looks so cyber and has first appeared on a Chinese online site. This is, after all, the 21st Century, and Aldi has clearly seen the sign of the times...


Related Articles: "Aldi verkauft ab März in China" & "Aldi modernisiert das Markenzeichen" by Hans Jurgen Schulz on pages 1 & 4 of Lebensmittel Zeitung, no. 9, 03.03.2017; "Aldi Süd gibt Startschuss für China" in LZnet on 02.03.2017


* 2015 gross sales in southern and western Germany grew by 1.6 per cent to €15.7bn. This equates to an annual average of €8.5m per store. The current wave of store modernisations was initiated in spring 2016 and involves individual store closures of five days to five weeks with an attendant reduction of sales. Aldi states, however, that it is "very optimistic" as regards the results obtained so far.


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1 Comment (Write a comment)

  1. Tim
    Created 8 March, 2017 12:54 | Permanent link

    Generational shift

    Very interesting article. It speaks volumes about the ability of 21st century businesses to tread the fine line between heritage and tradition and the modern world. Simply to produce iconography from the 19th and 20th century and expect a new cohort of consumers to buy in fails to understand generational change.

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