Why the prejudice against Aldi?

I shop at Aldi every week. The quality of their merchandise is excellent, in my experience (far better than most house brands, and fully the equal of major public brands), and their prices are considerably better than any other supermarket chain (including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Albertsons, Publix, etc.). I price-compare fairly often, and usually find that a basket of goods at Aldi is at least 10% cheaper than anywhere else – frequently closer to 15%. Sure, they only stock their own house brands, and have a limited selection of each item, but since the quality of that item is perfectly acceptable, so what?

That said, I was informed today that shopping at Aldi was somehow considered ‘cheap’ or ‘lower-class’. I couldn’t believe it, and did an Internet search, only to find many entries, articles and comments indicating that there’s a stigma attached to shopping at Aldi. Can anyone tell me why this should be? I can’t think of a single valid reason for it . . . unless it’s somehow considered an inferior personality trait, or a social stigma of some kind, to shop on price, rather than on attributes such as a broad selection, or lots of frills like plenty of cashiers and free bags. (Of course, being an immigrant, I may have missed some innate prejudice that others have grown up with in America: but I still don’t understand it. Can anyone explain, please?)

I find Aldi provides about 80%-90% of what I need each week (I do much of the cooking at home, so I do a lot of the shopping too). If it saves me money while providing high quality, what’s not to like about the place? In today’s economic climate, I guess most of us could use a few extra pennies in our pockets. If I can add to them by shopping at Aldi, to heck with the prejudices of others!

(Oh – in case you were wondering, Aldi didn’t ask me to write this, or pay me for it. I’ll gladly give them my personal endorsement free of charge – and I’ll be shopping there again next week!)

Peter

12 comments

  1. I'm surprised – Aldi's sister store (Trader Joe's) is considered a bit granola-ish but certainly not lower-class. (It's pretty much the only place we shop these days.)

    Aldi's hadn't moved in on the east coast yet when I lived there, though; I've never been in one.

    I suppose there's always a segment that feels they have to waste money on things so they can be seen to have money to waste.

  2. Aldi is a German company with many stores in Europe.

    Maybe it's "low-class" status is due to the very thing it stands for. Offering quality products at lower-cost.

    Being from (part of the year anyway) New Jersey I haven't seen any Aldi stores in the area I live. I generally shop at Wegman's because it has quality products not because it's cheap, cause it ain't.

    There are plenty of Aldi stores in my "second" home land. (Actually, my wife's home land..Ireland). And believe me, the Irish love a cheap bargin.

    Having said that, I don't frequent either Aldi or Lidl when in Ireland. I go to Tesco mostly.

  3. We have seen this sort of snobbery many times here in the UK regarding Aldi & Lidl. Our reaction is always the same whenever we encounter it – open & obvious mockery, usually along the lines of "Thank you for supporting the expensive competition, we quite like paying a lot less for the same quality while the wealthy pay more elsewhere and stay out of our way….."
    Having said that, we have recently seen some discreet forays by said snobs into Aldi & Lidl – but always with their own Tesco/Morrisons/Waitrose/Sainsbury carrier bags to put their goods into!

  4. I used to hitch a ride home from work with a guy who liked Aldi's the gang banger with the Browning HP and the disappearing off duty cop turned us both seriously off.
    Geoff
    Who is a professional paranoid.

  5. I've heard the same things since I moved here. We've gone to Aldi a few times, but there isn't a store here that's convenient to the house. I concur that the common perception is that it's not as nice a place or that it attracts a lower class of clientele, but I've never noticed anything like that. Middle class clients, nice store and good prices are nothing to be ashamed of.

  6. One reason may be smaller size of store. The one Aldi I have personal experience with was roughly half the size of the next smallest grocery store in town. Some people may have thought that it was similar to the "open bins and crates of mysterious cans and don't ask about the meat"-looking asian market. A number of the Aldi shoppers were German ex-pats (military spouses) but I don't recall any really "low life" types. Maybe I missed Gangsta Day or something.

    LittleRed1

  7. We have two within shopping range in NW UK. We use them regularly as their goods are good quality and cheap. Also their service is fast and good.

  8. Hi Peter,

    I hope you don't mind – I just posted a link back to your post on my own blog – aldishopper.blogspot.com

    I've occasionally noticed the prejudice that you're talking about. I think that the perception of Aldi is changing somewhat – these are tough times, and I think many people who would never have shopped anywhere but the big "name-brand" stores (Publix, Safeway, etc) are starting to find the real value that a store like Aldi offers.
    Naturally, marketing plays a BIG part in perception, and I think this is one of the areas in which Aldi (in the US) can improve. For instance, have you seen any of the Aldi ads from the UK on YouTube? They're cute, clever and hilarious! Some of the Aldi ads here in the US from the 80's and 90's were pretty good too – I'm thinking in particular about the one that looked like a big Broadway production number with the singin' and dancin' – at was hilarious! Totally over the top, but cheery and very positive and upbeat. I think a little more of that would go a long way toward helping shift the perception of Aldi as an exclusively down-market store for the underclass.
    I'm optimistic – I see the attitudes slowly, but surely, starting to shift…

  9. Ex-pat military spouses – yeah, that's true. Mine intro'ed me to Aldi's back in the '80's, and we would make detours (Chicago, North Carolina, other places) if we saw one. Back then, there were few stores to buy authentic European foods . . .

    I've always found that they provide quality goods at lower (better) prices, leaving me extra money to spend on other toys.

    Take a look here http://www.aldi.co.uk/uk/html/service/7232.htm at their commercials.

  10. There was an aldi's near my college. It got me hooked when I was a poor college student ('03-'07) and I still go there when I can even though I'm near more upscale places.

  11. In the old days, Aldi stores were generally very dirty and often located in lower class neighborhoods.

    The staff was almost hostile as they threw all of your groceries into the next cart. If you were buying THREE items and had a box, your goods still were tossed into the basket. The cashiers generally would not even talk to you.

    In recent years, the service has become a lot more friendly and the stores are much more pleasant and they are spending $$$s to redo the old locations.

  12. I love Aldi and save a lot of money there. The stores I used to shop at were often located in low-income areas, the lines long, and often urban clientele shopped there. I remember in Kansas City, you needed to go early – and it daylight – or risk you life.

    In a safter town in Iowa, I saw one of my co-workers at Aldi's one day. He is quite well off and we had a good chuckle over what everyone was missing. Aldi's has very good quality merchandise at great prices.

    I had gotten away from Aldi's but now that I am older and am trying to cut expenses, including living in a van instead of house or apartment, Aldi is invaluable. People can look down there noses all they want. I will bet a good number of them shop there!

    A great point was made about how much better Aldi's customer service is nowdays. It's true. It's a great place to shop and save.

    Bradford
    http://vantrekker.blogspot.com

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