Aldi branding plagiarism

Super market brand copycats such as Aldi are taking over, but how do they get away with it?

The rise of Aldi’s success is not only the fact that their own brand products are cheaper than the brands we recognise but they taste good too, in and some items they are considered better.

Their goods often come out from independent tests as higher quality than their more recognised brands, Good House keeping voted that Aldi’s Christmas Pudding was better than that of Harrods and Heston’s in a blind taste test.

They have been clever to only stock lines which they know will sell. Whilst Tesco sells 40,000 lines, Aldi just 1,350. By concentrating on fewer products they can sell them cheaper as they don’t have all the store overheads for more occasional products which the bigger supermarkets sell much less of. This reduces customer choice, but its more profitable as they can buy more and negotiate better prices from their suppliers.

But the main reason for its success is the way in which it markets its ‘own brand’ products to replicate existing brands and ride on back of all the hard work that the bigger more established brands have spent many years and millions of pounds building.

For instance, look at their take on Bleach ‘Power Force’ compared to market leader ‘Domestos’ a different name but rather similar looking packaging don’t you think ? At a glance its exactly the same.

But this is the UK, not China with its relaxed copyright laws, so how have they been allowed to get away with blatant copycat packaging without being sued.?

Intellectual property partner Jeremy Hertzog, of law firm Mishcon de Reya, says: ‘Brands are cautious about taking legal action in situations like this.

The brand would need to prove that the copycat product is deliberately out to confuse the buyer into believing that the similar-looking product is actually connected economically to the original in some way.’
As you can see from the images, Aldi’s own brand packaging is astonishingly like the brands we all recognise but at a fraction of the price.

Such imitations must play on the subconscious mind of the customer.

A customer walking down the aisle of the supermarket and are looking to a bottle of ‘Fairy’ washing up liquid for example, they will instantly recognise the green liquid bottle with red and white logo. There will be a moment when they consider this looks like their regular brand but at the same time its slightly different, but it was enough to grab their attention. At this point they see the price and realise it’s half of what they normally pay, this in many cases will trigger a reaction of ‘for that price its worth a try’, its worth the gamble’ if its no good then I’ll switch back to my normal brand’. The customers loyalty to ‘Fairy Liquid’ has to be incredibly strong for the customer to not give it a try.

Remember that the reason that they are shopping in Aldi in the first place is that they are curious and want to save money. As soon as the customer realises that this product is equally as good as their usual brand, then that’s it – they are unlikely to go back unless the original washing up liquid can be found for the same price as Aldi’s own. So Aldi has captured and converted another customer.

This process will continue, maybe slowly at first until the customer is re-assured that the new copycat products can replace the ones brought in the weekly shop. Ok so they won’t get it right every time, at some point they’ll come across a product which doesn’t compare as well to its established brand competitor, but that’s a small price to pay for the 100’s of products that are the same, if not better.

Other high supermarkets are now following Aldi’s lead, this is only going to continue until the big brands decide enough is enough and take legal action.

If you are considering your product packaging design and printed point of sale, take a look at our article on Spot Colour Vs.c Process Colour. You can find out how to achieve a specific colour match result across multiple surfaces types to cement your brand identity.

About Dean Williams

Dean Williams is a designer and business blogger working for Print-Print Limited, promoting business and building brands through quality print marketing. If you’re interested in small business promotion then please get in touch
  • Mike Jackson

    Its shocking aldi and lidl are allowed to get away with this. in any other industry they would be immediately shut down. One has to ask, why not in the food industry…what is different?

  • Ian Alexander

    I just found this page after buying their Alcafe coffee because I thought it was Nescafe. They shouldn’t be allowed to copy other brands.

    • Danny Molt

      Its incredibly misleading, but we still cant work out why the big brands are allowing this to continue.

  • Nigel

    Very disingenuous of Aldi. Require some controls on this post Brexit if not before. UK Food Manufacturers need to be attacking the discounters in their own back yards.