Aldi attracts Woolworths attention

Attempting to deflect criticism of its market power last week, Woolworths drew attention to its fast-growing competitor, Aldi. Woolworths highlighted the 95 per cent market share of private labels in Aldi, compared to just six per cent in its own stores.

Aldi remains a minnow compared to Woolies. But it’s growing rapidly and its strategy of offering mainly private labels makes it a difficult devil to grapple with – especially on price. How can you undercut a competitor that sells so few mainstream brands?

Aldi does private labels particularly well. The packaging looks good, often resembling market leaders. And the quality generally exceeds the “no better than it needs to be” values of old-time generics.

The beers reviewed this week, for example, sell on special for around the price of mainstream Australian brews, but offer more, in my view, than, say VB.

Hopper Whitman Belgian White Ale 355ml 6-pack $9.99–$12.99
Aldi’s Hopper Whitman white ale, brewed by World Beers, New York, emulates Belgian styles like Hoegaarden. The lemon colour and cloudy appearance look similar to the original, although the aroma seems fruitier and the palate a little rounder and sweeter. It’s a tasty, clean, refreshing wheat ale and true to style.

Hopper Whitman Summer Brew Pale Ale 330ml 6-pack $9.99–$12.99
At first glance I thought this might be in the bright, aromatically hoppy style of Little Creatures Pale Ale. There’s an element of aromatic hops, but the character leaned more to the herbal than floral and on the palate, hops bitterness seemed more important than hops flavour. It’s an easy drinking, well-balanced style.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 20 March 2013 in The Canberra Times