In recent years, Lidl, the hard-discounter supermarket, has done an excellent job of repositioning its brand perception in the Irish middle-class mindset.

The brand has successfully targeted affluent customers and continues to pull them away from soft discounters through a number of smart initiatives.

By championing organic foods and local produce, along with the addition of in-store bakeries and the release of a “deluxe” range of goods, Lidl has achieved substantial growth of its Irish grocery sector market share, particularly among “high social class” consumers.

Correspondingly, research undertaken by The Irish Times into grocery shopping habits of our traditionally middle-class readership shows a highly engaged audience for Lidl’s advertising. We tested reader reaction to 11 brochure format advertisements for Lidl via our representative reader panel.

Our research reveals average reader recall of 71% for this format of ad. Meanwhile, 46% of readers who see a Lidl brochure express purchase interest.

Publication last November in The Irish Times of a highly appealing Lidl “deluxe” range brochure (targeting the 2013 Christmas market) prompted us to undertake some “extra-value” research on behalf of the supermarket brand.

With the help of our business partner, RAM Panel, we devised a research plan: We would survey our reader panel to test initial purchase interest upon seeing the Lidl brochure, but revisit those “potential purchasers” a week later and see how many actually purchased something in Lidl.

We started out by sending our usual ad survey to readers, on the day the brochure appeared in the newspaper. As anticipated, results were typically strong: 68% of that day’s readers recalled the Lidl brochure, while a huge 56% of those who saw it expressed purchase interest.

One week after the initial ad survey, RAM created a “micro-panel” of our potential purchasers and sent a follow-up survey, inquiring whether readers had purchased anything since initially seeing the Lidl brochure.

Our results were very revealing: In the week that had elapsed since publication, 66% of our potential purchasers had actually visited Lidl. Weighted against our readership figures, this equates to nearly 90,000 people.

Sixty-two percent of those who visited a Lidl store had purchased a “deluxe” item or items they spotted in the brochure. Furthermore, 62% confirmed the brochure had indeed influenced them to shop at Lidl.

But the most valuable news we could bring back to Lidl was the revenue generated by the brochure. We asked readers to estimate how much they spent on their last visit. Forty-five percent of readers who had visited a Lidl store that week spent at least €50, resulting in revenue of nearly €2 million from those readers alone.

And the best news for us: Only a few days after our research findings were sent to the store by our sales representative, we secured further Lidl ad bookings for 2014.