Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Alternate Universe at Aldi

Aldi, the supermarket chain owned by the same reclusive German billionaires who own Trader Joe's, has been in the Twin Cities market for over a decade, but I've never visited one until recently. I knew that they keep their prices low by carrying only store brands, rather than name brands, but I didn't know what that looks like when you're in the store.

Now I do, and I have to say it's a disorienting trip through an alternate universe where things look familiar but they're not what you think they are. Sometimes the designs are very close to the reference brands, and other times they just have a sense of similarity.

The spaghetti packaging mimics Barilla in its overall color use without specifically copying the exact hues or shapes:

The paper towel brand, Boulder, uses the same first three letters as Bounty, but the packaging is pretty generic-looking compared to actual Bounty:

Willow, the Aldi tissue knockoff, comes the closest to copying its inspiration brand, Kleenex.

The sparkling water brand, LaVie, is clearly a reference to LaCroix, but I actually like the LaVie package better in this case:

The Campbell's soup knockoff is the one that really caught my attention at first. It's not that it looks exactly like the real thing, but in the store without the brand-name cans to compare it to, I was convinced the Aldi designers had captured the gestalt of the Campbell's design:

 I was fooled by these bottles of canola oil:

I thought they were olive oil because of the green and red and the "Italian" name, but I guess green is also used for canola.

Maybe the most interesting thing I noticed was the types of products for which Aldi does sell the name-brand item:

Aside from these Always pads and Tampax tampons, I saw a small selection of real Coke and Diet Coke among the generic soda boxes, plus M&Ms and some other bagged candy. Oh, and Barbie dolls.


Gina said...

Interesting. I've not been in an Aldi's but have passed the one on Penn Ave. South, right next to a Lund's. I wonder how the Aldi's products hold up in terms of quality, and what their fresh produce and meats are like. I like Lund's for their produce and meats, as well as selection in other areas. And is Aldi's really cheaper?

Daughter Number Three said...

I believe Aldi is substantially cheaper, generally, even when comparing store brands to Aldi brands, which is really the only fair comparison. The Milwaukee paper did a comparison in 2014, which was the best link I saw.

They have a much more limited selection than any other supermarket. No deli and I don't think a fresh meat counter exactly (though I wasn't really paying attention in the meat department because it doesn't have packaging).