‘Like brands, only cheaper.’ There’s no denying Aldi’s chutzpah when it comes to pitching its own products as direct rivals to the biggest names in FMCG. It’s an issue that has long riled brands, which have spent years developing and refining their products and packaging – only to see cheaper mimics adorning the discounters’ shelves.
In some cases, it’s resulted in a high-profile legal battle. Take the dispute with Hendrick’s Gin, which resulted in Lidl being ordered to temporarily withdraw its Hampstead gin brand across Scotland in 2021.
Or Aldi, which was taken to task by M&S over its similar-looking gin-based liqueurs and could face an injunction if it attempts to sell them again. So far, though, the discounters have largely managed to avoid such outcomes by using their commercial power to get brands on side, and relying on legal claims being tricky to prove.
Now this tried-and-tested strategy could all be blown apart by an upcoming legal dispute with Thatchers, which threatens to set a precedent on taking ‘unfair advantage’ of a brand’s reputation. If the alcohol brand wins, the discounters may have to rethink the mimicry that sits at the heart of their UK strategy – or at the very least, take a more subtle approach.
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