Is Iceland the new Aldi?

Iceland offers low prices alongside luxury award-winning groceries

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Iceland low prices and awards

Iceland has never exactly been the classiest food shop on the high street. From the early days of selling loose frozen food in the 1970s, through to the days of adverts featuring Kerry Katona, and beyond, Iceland has tended to be synonymous with cheap and cheerful rather than class and quality. However, in the past few years something unexpected has happened - while continuing to offer rock bottom prices, the supermarket has been quietly picking up awards for quality. It is, in effect, becoming the new Aldi.

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Bargains

Price remains key, which has been essential for the last few years when everyone's budgets have been squeezed. You can still pick up any number of family favourites for a pound at Iceland, from shepherd's pie to a bag of chips. And while it is leaving the years of Kerry Katona behind it, by choosing Stacey Soloman as the face of the brand, its appeal to shoppers at the lower end of the income spectrum is still an essential string to its bow.

We checked the price of a basket of goods at the Iceland and Aldi - plus a third at Tesco. Aldi's ability to buy in far greater bulk showed through in slightly lower prices than Iceland. However, when compared against the same basket at Tesco, Iceland came in at a significant discount.

Iceland
Luxury oven chips £2
4 pints semi-skimmed milk 99p
5 bananas 72p
Warburtons white sliced bread £1
Deep pan double pepperoni pizza £1
£5.71


Aldi
Specially Selected Chunky Oven chips £1.95
4 pints semi-skimmed milk 99p
5 bananas 60p
Warburtons white sliced bread £1
Deep pan pepperoni pizza 95p
£5.49

Tesco
Tesco Finest Chunky Oven Chips £2.40
4 pints semi-skimmed milk £1
5 bananas 90p
Warburtons white sliced bread £1.05
Deep pan pepperoni pizza £1
£6.35

Middle class

However, price is not the only area where Iceland is competing heavily. In among the cut-price foods, is plenty of evidence that Iceland is following another strategy that matches the discounters -broadening its appeal to middle class shoppers.

It has launched a Luxury Range, including everything from £10 Chateaubriand with red wine sauce, to uncooked lobster tails for £10, rose veal saltimbocca (for £6), and sushi (for £3).

Awards

As well as expanding the range, it has focused on quality. The store has 43 award-winners and finalists on sale at the moment - a huge number of which have been picked up in 2017. These range from the Iceland Luxury Surf and Turf (steak and king prawns), which was a finalist in the Meat Management Industry Awards, to the Iceland Sweet Chilli Chicken Noodle Bowl, which picked up a gold award at the British Frozen Food Federation Awards.

It also did well in the Grocer Own Label Food and Drink awards - with prizes for its Spicy Chicken Arabiatta and Peppers Pizza, and Luxury Chicken Makhani Masala. And the glamorous Olive magazine's Summer Product Awards gave titles to the Chicken and Chorizo Kebabs, and Arctic Royal Argentinian Red Shrimp.

Non frozen food is doing well too - with British Cheese Award golds for its Lancashire, Cheshire and Mild Cheddar. There was also Grocer Own Label title for its Luxury Bakewell Muffin, and an Olive award for its Luxury Brioche Rolls. Perhaps the biggest award it has received so far this year was the Grocer Online Supermarket of the Year Award 2017.

Re-branding

Iceland is currently experimenting with new branding in Clapham, where the store has been overhauled to appeal to a middle class audience - bringing fresh and chilled food to the front of the store, updating the freezers , and offering more beer and wine. The experiment will be followed by a handful more, and if that's successful, could be rolled out.

The strategy appears is paying off so far, and according to Kantar Worldpanel, nowadays almost a fifth of shoppers at the store are middle class - a percentage that is gradually growing. Shoppers are buying more of the frozen range, but also more fresh and chilled foods.

It still has some way to go - with a 2.2% share of the grocery market, compared to 5% held by Lidl and 6.9% at Aldi. The eclectic history of the brand has also demonstrated that it is capable of taking two steps forward and three steps back. However, for anyone who hasn't been near an Iceland in years, it might be worth popping in for a quick look to see how it has changed.

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