Between the aisles: What we say online about supermarkets

Whether we go to Aldi, Lidl or Tesco, we’re generally upbeat about where we shop – and when we talk about their prices, wine and milk are what we mention most often

To find out what customers really care about, big supermarket chains spend a lot of time and money examining the findings of focus groups and looking for clues to help them maximise their profits.

Olytico, an Irish social-media analysis firm, has found a short cut to the Irish shopper's mind by analysing what people are saying online about supermarkets and shopping. It sifted through nearly 20,000 mentions of supermarkets on social-media networks between April and June, and has given the data to 'The Irish Times'.

The results show that we were generally upbeat about our supermarkets, making three times as many positive comments as negative ones.

People were more likely to share information about bargains than to complain about high prices, and when it came to praise, Lidl and Aldi were in pole position. Tesco had the lowest percentage of positive comments.


When discussing prices in general, milk and wine were the most frequently mentioned products, and when we were talking about high prices we often turned the conversation to other bargains in the same store or talk about prices in other stores.

“This points to an educated online community, very aware of what is available to them when choosing where to shop,” says Stephen O’Leary of Olytico.

In recent months the multiples have been pushing their Irishness, and the analysis shows why: 10 per cent of all internet chatter in the last three months contained the words “Ireland” or “Irish”.

Aldi and Lidl were praised for having cheap, good-quality fruit and veg, but it was said to go out of date more quickly than produce from other stores.

The buzz phrase in retailing is “own brand”, but the term was found in just 1 per cent of online content. “Users are more likely to say Lidl’s Weetabix than Lidl’s own-brand Weetabix,” says O’Leary . And it is not all positive for own brands, with some products identified as being of poor quality.

Mentions of staff and service made
up 4 per cent of online discussion,
with comments veering towards the negative.

The absence of shopping baskets at Aldi and Lidl seemed to occupy many minds. Some felt the absence of baskets reflected retailer ignorance and suggested that the stores didn’t care about consumers. Others argued that the absence of baskets meant queues moved faster and led to lower prices, as the stores did not have buy and maintain them.