In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how themselves and their teams have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, what they have learned from it and how they continue helping their customers.

For the third instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Rita Kirwan, Marketing Director at ALDI Ireland.

MII: Hi Rita, can you tell us about how have you been adapting your marketing activities during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Rita Kirwan: As a supermarket we have a responsibility to all our customers to constantly communicate to them, reassure them and inform them of everything Aldi is doing to ensure they continue to get the best value groceries, quickly and safely every time they shop with us.

The main thing we are trying to do from a marketing perspective is to get our messages out quickly – this includes messages in store and social media. These also include such messages as 10% bonus for our store staff, shortened payment terms for our small suppliers, Perspex screens at the tills and priority access for all frontline workers.


How have you been engaging with your team?

The entire Aldi team have been amazing. We know we have a duty to the public to provide their best value groceries to them. From a marketing perspective we continue to operate as normal, all be it from kitchen tables and bedrooms. The nice part is that we all get to meet everybody’s’ kids and pets. It’s a huge team effort working with everyone across the business, especially operations and really listening to our customers’ feedback.


What have you learned from a marketing perspective from COVID 19?

In terms of marketing through any crisis, you have to stay calm, make the best decisions you can and move quickly. The worst decision is no decision. Social media is a great barometer to tell you how you’re doing and where you can continually improve. Empathy is also really important as people’s personal situations are individually different and challenging and you need to be conscious of that. Good broadband helps too!


How have your work practices changed? What will you do differently going forward?

As we couldn’t film any new comms, we decided to be a little innovative and get our amazing Swap and Save family to produce the ad themselves. The Byrnes did an amazing job and created a wonderful campaign, all shot on their phones themselves. The first 2 ads have been released but there’s much more to come from this wonderful family!

On top of that our Aldi IT team have been amazing and provided solutions for us all to work from home successfully. That’s been a big change. I miss the energy and fun of being together as a team though and the sharing of ideas.


Has your brand purpose been challenged by COVID 19? How?

Aldis’ brand purpose through this crisis and every crisis is to provide the best value groceries to our customers – and that hasn’t changed and never will change. We learned from managing the business through storms and one of the most important things was the relationships with our amazing suppliers that ensures we always have plenty of stock on our shelves of great value Irish products.

I feel all supermarkets are trying to do their best during this crisis – it’s not easy and is constantly evolving. It’s not like any of us have been through something like this before.


What brands or businesses have you admired through this crisis?

Aldi! “Covid-19 has changed how we all live our lives, but it hasn’t changed Aldis’ priorities and our commitments as an employer, partner and supermarket.”

Internationally a brand that I admire is AB InBev who moved very fast and are redirecting the $5m it would normally allocate to sports and entertainment marketing to the American Red Cross as it looks to help in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak. The brewer, which owns brands including Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, is also working with sports partners to identify arenas and stadiums that could be used as temporary locations for blood donation. Plus, it is making its tour centres available to the Red Cross and donating media time for the aid organisation’s public service announcements. As part of the initiative, AB InBev released a new ad, called ‘One Team’ that shows an empty baseball stadium and then healthcare workers, researchers and volunteers battling the outbreak. It ends with a shout-out to the “home team” – people who are staying in to stop the spread of the virus.

An Post is another brand who has really played a beautiful role. Sending out two specially designed postage paid postcards to every household was a wonderfully simple idea. I know it made my own mother’s day when she received her postcard from my dad in his nursing home, written by one of the incredible nursing staff.