Lidl’s new ‘store of the future’ – coming soon to a town near you?


We took a trip to Rushden in Northamptonshire this week to visit Lidl’s new concept store. As soon as we stepped off the train and into the taxi, it was evidently the talk of the town; our driver simply couldn’t wait to do her weekly shop there.

It makes a great first impression. A slick, grey building with a striking corner entrance, and a floor to ceiling welcome graphic greets you on arrival. And wait, what’s that smell? Yep, it’s fresh bread, made on site throughout the day… and it certainly draws you in.


Inside, the most noticeable change comes from the dark grey interior scheme – no more garish green, blue, yellow and orange. And in navigation, lifestyle photography has given way to stripped back category descriptions in simple type with iconography. Upping their Fresh credentials is evidently top of Lidl’s list with stylish black mirrored units for meat and fish contributing to the overall premium feel.

Not surprisingly two aisles are given over to Lidl’s ‘limited time only’ non-grocery offers and these have been given a bold new graphic treatment. Beers, wines and spirits also have a new look, with storytelling for the ‘posher’ spirits and a Master of Wine collaboration adding expertise and credibility.

It would be good to see the Fruit & Veg category and value comms brought in line with the new concept, but with wide aisles, baby-changing facilities, self scan checkouts that actually work (imagine!), and their witty tone of voice raising a smile everywhere you look, they’re certainly getting not a ‘Lidl’, but a lot right.




Sean Dwyer

Is price matching still a compelling weapon in the retail wars?


Tesco revamped its price match scheme Brand Guarantee last month, raising the stakes in the supermarket price wars. But do price match schemes still have weight in a crowded marketplace and are they really what customers want?

Let’s first try to get the situation straight. Tesco matches Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s matches Asda, which promises a 10% difference to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose. Morrisons matches the big three plus Lidl and Aldi, while Waitrose and Ocado compare prices directly to Tesco. In contrast, Aldi and Lidl don’t match anyone.

Confused? You will be when you also consider the range of compensation supermarkets offer their customers once a price difference is established, and the confusing small print that legally applies to each basket spend. Some provide a voucher to be redeemed against your next shop (Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Asda). Waitrose states that it “simply matches prices on the shelf” – not giving refunds at all. In contrast, Morrisons adds complexity by adding the difference in points to your store loyalty card, which then converts into money-off vouchers.

Only Tesco’s new scheme deducts the difference directly and instantly at the till, which is a game-changer. However, like the other schemes, it’s still dependent on certain conditions, mainly that your basket must contain 10 different products, one of which is a comparable branded product.

With this much confusion, customers could come to view these schemes as an expected part of their shopping experience, or with cynical suspicion. There’s also a danger that customers could assume the supermarkets are increasing the price on other products to compensate, or that retailers will expect customers to forget to cash in their vouchers.

Recent campaigns from Lidl and Aldi poke fun at their rivals, suggesting an absurd level of complexity and implying a price rise prior to the refunds. In this context, there’s also a worry that these schemes be viewed purely as retail wallpaper.

The reaction varies from customer to customer, as it’s so dependent on personal circumstances and shopping behaviour. A compelling scheme will no doubt tempt a customer when faced with a side-by-side comparison, but today’s customers are less brand-loyal and shop the full range of supermarkets, from discounters through to higher end brands, all in the same week.

It’s one of the reasons why Waitrose’s “pick your own offers” is so successful. It gives the customer the ability to personalise their promotions, giving them more control and flexibility over their shop.

There’s definitely a level of subconscious reassurance offered by price match schemes. The big four certainly can’t afford to ignore this form of value communication while their rivals shout about it.

What’s more important is that retailers consider these schemes as just one of the many tools in their arsenal to communicate their value proposition. Rather than relying on these schemes to do all the heavy lifting, it’s crucial they’re employed alongside a clear pricing and promotional strategy, thereby allowing customers to easily compare prices.

When this communication is honest and genuine it enables supermarkets to build price integrity – and therefore customer trust and loyalty – without having to rely on price matching schemes. In the heat of the supermarket wars, any clarity for customers must surely win brand loyalty.

Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images



Sean Dwyer

Crumbs! Who ate all the cake?

We’ve been busy baking and scoffing this week – all for a good cause, of course! Yum!




Sean Dwyer

Specialist vs integrated – which agency type is best?

Check out today’s Guardian MAA ‘Marketing Innovation’ opinion piece by our very own Carla Heath…

‘The biggest mistake clients make is wanting to work with an integrated agency’ – a client said this to me only last week. As the MD of a specialist retail communications design agency I have often pondered this subject. I mean, would you ask a handyman to rewire your house? Would you ask your GP to perform brain surgery?

In a world where it’s becoming easier and faster to get what we want, when we want it and all aspects of our life are becoming more democratised, the creative industry has seen a growth in agencies offering
a full service ‘one stop shop.’ Whilst this definitely makes corporate life more convenient and probably easier on the bottom line, I believe it also means that both clients and agencies are losing out.

Firstly there’s understanding. Internal pressures place a constant strain on client-agency relationships. Specialist agencies use instinct and experience to fill in the gaps, understand the context and anticipate the problems. We help identify the brief and often even help write it, whilst beginning to formulate a solution.

Secondly it’s all about quality (that’s quality not quantity). Rather than amassing a large team of creative bodies on an account, a good specialist will take the time to match the skills and experience relative to the client’s needs and work with agility and flexibility. The surface of a problem isn’t just scratched and nodded at, but the problem is fully investigated and a solution well and truly unearthed.

Then finally, there’s the people. Employing expert talent who are genuinely passionate about the specialism brings both great solutions for clients and allows for strong links with other specialist agencies. When the dots are seamlessly joined, the client gets a great result. Good specialist agencies play nicely together, enjoying the clear distinctions between what each other does whilst loving the successful collaboration which brings a great overall solution.

Clients want to believe they’re in expert hands. So why pay for a Jack of all trades when you can work with a great creative specialist?




Sean Dwyer

We’re helping kids eat happy!

Here at Whippet Towers, we always love a food related brief. And when they’re for a worthwhile cause, all the better. So we’re excited to be working on a great new initiative – The Tesco Eat Happy Project. It promotes a healthy relationship between children and food by educating them on where their food comes from and how it gets onto their plates. We’ve been busy developing the brand  including guidelines, in-store POS, teacher’s packs, recipe cards and activity books. Over a million children have already taken part… spread the word!EatHappy EatHappy2 EatHappy3 EatHappy4



Sean Dwyer

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