Supermarkets await the arrival of European rival Lidl
Opening its doors to American shoppers on June 15th, the supermarket industry is bracing for the impact of European rival Aldi. A favourite with European shoppers, who like many, want low cost, high value groceries, Lidl is set to become another key player within the US supermarket industry.
With the aim to have doubled in size by 2018, the company have adopted an aggressive growth strategy across America, opening both large and small stores. It will be interesting to see how supermarket giants Walmart, Target and Amazon will react to Lidl’s entrance into the US market.
However, the company will also now be up against fellow German chain Aldi, who entered the US market back in the 1970s. Both chains have a rich history which is interlinked, to which it will be interesting to see how American shoppers will feel with a similar supermarket chain emerging on the scene.
However, Business Insider have reported that the company aims to distance itself from the German chain, stating that "After three years of research, we discovered that US consumers don't like discount groceries. Unlike Aldi, the Lidl will be a hybrid similar to Trader Joe's or Harris Teeter. We will sell high-end brands, quality not quantity, best products only."
The company will sell fresh fruit and vegetables, something of which is highly thought after by European shoppers, as well as baked and packaged goods, meats and organic produce, with the majority of products becoming sustainably sourced and Lidl’s own private label. Lidl US CEO Brendan Proctor said, “We cannot wait to open our first US. stores and introduce customers to grocery shopping refreshed, retooled and rethought to make life better,” said. “Our mission every day is to deliver our customers less complexity, lower prices, better choices and greater confidence.”
However, with increased lower prices, larger supermarket chains will have to lower their prices further to remain competitive, not lose market share and retain consumers. The first 20 stores to open have been confirmed to be based in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“This is the right time for us to enter the United States,” Proctor informed Reuters. “We are confident in our model. We adapt quickly, so it’s not about whether a market works for us, but really about what we will do to make it work.”
With over 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe, Lidl have planned to have 80 further launches by the end of 2017, creating thousands of new jobs for US workers and drive business growth across the pond.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.