It is not a secret that Finnish retail market is an oligopoly with two big players – S Group and Kesko. Together these Finnish companies have an impressive 80 % market share. What is news is that now there is a real contender in the game – Lidl! In this blog post we concentrate on a couple of factors how Lidl is challenging the Finnish giants in their home market.
Lidl is the biggest discount supermarket chain in Europe with over 10 000 stores in 25 countries. But when they started to conquer Finland in 2002 they had difficulties. Many people didn’t change their consumer behaviour even if Lidl had the lowest prices. After heavy marketing efforts and small strategy changes, the situation changed and they are now an accepted alternative. Lidl is growing rapidly even if they still are an underdog. They have now reached their goal, profitable growth with best economical results in the business.
Who would have believed that Lidl would take over the opinion leadership in the market? This is where Hans comes to picture! Mocked for his insufficient social skills and short temper, but also a founder of one of Finland’s most respected restaurants, Hans Välimäki came to be the key person in Lidl’s marketing strategy.
And Hans and Lidl marketing is everywhere! For one example there is an all out Lidl production TV show Hans Grill Party where he cooks Lidl products with friends. The clever thing is that the TV audience doesn’t even recognize the whole program is a paid TV commercial!
It is hard to believe that a world class top chef would buy vacuum packed meat that Lidl sells unless he received a substantial pile of cash as a reward. Lidl, on the other hand, is not only receiving a huge boost to their brand value with this deal but also gaining remarkable market share increase.
What Lidl is succeeding now in is not just business but more – a penetration to Finland’s introverted market. Consumer behaviour is changing and the ideal of preferring domestic enterprises leads to prosperity is now fading. Or is it? Is Hans just so good business that he causes this anomaly?