The main takeaway theme of Aldi’s Christmas range in 2019 is that more is, well, more but don’t rock the boat with too much new-fangled stuff. This year traditional favourites are super-sized and new products are variations on a theme.
Old-fashioned glamour is back with a vengeance whether it is gold-dusted desserts or velvet plush cushions. And Mrs Hinch is now officially an influencer because even the children’s range includes an upmarket cleaning set, which is designed to actually work, although the real product licensing deals are with ultra-traditional characters such as Peter Rabbit and The Hungry Caterpillar.
In terms of homewares, Aldi says one big trend is cooking ware doubling as serving ware – it saves time on washing up and reminds people of those cute little sauce-pans in which waiters bring your personal sauce portion at fancy restaurants allowing you to recreate the experience of dining out at home – the discounter has brought out a whole range of copper pans to tap into this which looks like it will be a big seller.
Also expected to sell very well is the completely new for Aldi pet range. As someone at the launch event ever so slightly controversially remarked “because now pets are as important as children at Christmas” which is why you will be able to buy your pet a matching Christmas jumper this year.
The table settings tune into a desire for the Christmas meal table to resemble the dining room at Downton Abbey with a definite back to the classics feel to them. In fact, even this year’s iteration of the doll’s house is a three-storey Regency town house (complete with lift and spiral staircase) instead of the usual more prosaic, house-shaped house.
Although it is not being shouted from the rooftops there is a nod towards some CSR objectives. For example the towels are made with a lower twist as this does not use so much dye or water in the production. And the children’s range is noticeably wooden rather than plastic.
When it comes to the food range what stands out is the number of variations on a theme that Aldi has been able to develop. Take pigs in blankets – you can have a normal pig in blanket or you can have a scorpion in blankets (with a fiery kick to it) or you can have three little pigs in blankets or a two-metre-long pig in blanket or halloumi sticks in blankets. Similarly with mince pies. The angle seems to be to take something familiar and introduce a myriad of new styles with possibly unfamiliar ingredients within it.
Aldi has obviously moved a long way from its old tag of being a German supermarket with slightly odd German food in it… most meat is now British sourced and Red Tractor approved. The Christmas puddings are made by a family firm in the Isle of Man. And whether it’s a nod to post Brexit Britain or not, this is the year that Aldi adds an English sparkling wine to the range as the British love affair with Prosecco bottoms out slightly. And British Mother’s Ruin is back in a big way.
The extensive chocolate range (along with packaging that is distinctly reminiscent of another much higher priced British supermarket) includes a nearly foot-high Nutcracker figure and a huge bauble with a decorative front designed by a water laser with spiced gingerbread on the inside. As a spokesperson noted “Excess is back”.
With lots of vegan choices and a lighter cherry-flavoured pud which someone at the launch described as a “gateway Christmas pudding”, Aldi are also tapping into the idea that someone will not just have one Christmas dinner but several. There is the family occasion where the traditional roast and the full monty pudding will be served, but also a second or third with student friends, work colleagues, house mates to be catered for and that’s where the slightly more unusual choices might be served.
All in all, the whole range could be characterized as ‘Home, James, and don’t spare the horses’ – as someone in Downton Abbey might say.