Batavia-Based Aldi One of Fastest-Growing Retailers in The U.S.

Batavia-Based Aldi One of Fastest-Growing Retailers in The U.S.

A Kane County-based business is one of the fastest-growing retail establishments in America.

According to the Store Brands website, Batavia-based Aldi has added more than 200 stores in the past two years, with another 100 on the way this year, and has set a goal to hit 2,500 stores by the end of next year.

A lot of that success, Storebrands says, is due to the company’s ability to adapt to consumer needs during the pandemic as well as its willingness to experiment and expand through e-commerce.

“To add some context, in response to changing customer needs during the pandemic, we added roughly 1,000 curbside grocery pickup locations in a little more than a year,” said Brent Laubaugh, co-president of Aldi U.S., in an exclusive interview with Store Brands. “We’ve learned that now, more than ever, people want options for how they shop and we’re proud to be able to offer those choices. The demand for e-commerce continues to be strong, so it’s a critical part of our business that we’ll continue to invest in.”

He added, “The last several years have been very transformative for Aldi. We’ve invested more than $5 billion in a multi-year, nationwide growth initiative and have opened more than 500 stores in the last five years.”

The Rise of Aldi

According to Storebrands, at least some of Aldi’s success has to do with social media.

A search on Instagram brings up more than 50 influencers dedicated to the retailer with handles like All I Need is Aldi, Aldi for President, Aldi Nerd, Aldi All the Time and many more. The accounts share regional perspectives, such as The Aldi Nerd, based in Florida.

All I Need is Aldi focused on recipes, cooking and product reviews from her area stores.

Laubaugh said the influencers take to social media to highlight Aldi Finds, the weekly drops from the retailer, and personally noted the Facebook fan group Aldi Red Bag Chicken, which has nearly 20,000 followers solely dedicated to sharing recipes and photos of how home cooks innovate with the retailer’s Kirkwood Breaded Chicken Fillets.

Aldi has even placed shelf tags near the product in stores proclaiming: “Red Bag Chicken. So Good It Has Its Own Fan Group.”

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Screenshot from Facebook

Aldi is also working hard to charge its image. Traditionally, an Aldi shopper was considered someone only interested in saving money.

Now Aldi is combining its reputation for low-cost grocery retailing with the addition of exclusive brands, some of which are targeting upscale customers who are looking for bargains.

More than 90% of Aldi’s assortment is made up of its exclusive brands, of which there are dozens. Some of the standouts, according to Laubaugh include:

  • Specially Selected: A range of gourmet and specialty items such as German coffee, premium pastas and seasonal sweet treats like the Specially Selected Belgian Cocoa Dusted Truffles;
  • Earth Grown: Launched in 2018, the exclusive vegetarian and vegan line was an instant success and has quickly grown to become one of Aldi’s most popular brands. Earth Grown was the quickest to market in just under eight months;
  • Simply Nature: Customers are increasingly aware of what they are putting into their bodies and Simply Nature products are organic, non-GMO and free of added artificial ingredients and preservatives; and
  • Little Journey: Baby and toddler essentials.

Looking at the year ahead, Laubaugh said the company is aiming to take advantage in the renewed interest in cooking, baking and grilling at home.

“We’re about a year into being at home full-time and people still love to bake,” he said.

Items coming soon include giant marshmallows for s’mores season and the return of a popular funnel cake kit. The retailer has seen success specifically through its specialty organic sugar cane, almond flour and premium chocolate chips, too.