A Brand Is About Variance Reduction

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ALDI’s supermarket proposition isn’t to give its customers a bigger choice of products than any of its competitors, it actually gives them less. In this Vlog, Grant explains that brands like ALDI, Coke, McDonald’s and Heinz enable us to navigate a world where we’re overwhelmed with choice – because a brand is about variance reduction.

We live in a world where people think that more and more choice is a good thing.

So how come a supermarket, that actually offered less choice, is so incredibly successful?

Because ALDI’s proposition to customers wasn’t to give them more products in the store, it is actually to give them less products.

But it makes shopping at ALDI so much easier.

And actually, that is the power of brand.

Brand enables us to navigate a world where we’re overwhelmed with choice – because brand works on a thing called low variance.

It’s risk reduction.

Let me explain…

Nobody goes to McDonald’s for its celebrity chef and five star cuisine.

People go because they know what they’re going to get, and that’s low variance.

Your brand doesn’t have to offer the best, but when it’s consistent, people will take safety in the fact that they know what they’re getting.

I travel a lot for work.

I don’t need a spa.

I don’t need loads of facilities.

I often get to the hotel quite late at night and leave quite early in the morning, but I want to know what I’m getting – because it takes all the stress out of the travel.

Therefore, I use Premier Inn, do I think Premier Inn is the best hotel in the world?

Of course it isn’t, but I know exactly what I’m getting; from the car park to the reception, to the people saying ‘shush’, as you walk down the corridor, so you don’t make a noise and the room layout.

Everything’s exactly the same, no matter what Premier Inn I go to. And it’s that consistency that people buy – because there’s no risk at all in the purchase.

So when you think about delivering your brand, it has to be simple and ruthlessly consistent – and people often miss that – because it doesn’t matter whether you buy a can of Coke, a tin of Heinz Tomato Soup, or a Cadbury’s Dairy milk. Every time you buy those products, you know exactly what you are getting.


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  1. Great post Grant. Only yesterday I was in Aldi buying some of the red wine based on a recommendation. At the checkout I asked the lady in front of me in the queue “so why do you shop here?”. She replied “great value, quality and limited choice saving me time”. She then went on to list her favourite products. Apparently, their beef steaks are the best. Did make me smile that these are electronically tagged to stop them being pinched! No wonder the store in Maldon, Essex was packed.

    1. Author

      Thanks Ian for recounting your experience. Yes, it has been identified in research that people like having less choice. Thanks for the tip off. I will make sure I don’t try and steal any beef steaks! ?

    1. Author

      Thanks Chris. All is good thank you. I hope all is well with you.

  2. Agree with the principal Grant as with all of your blogs. Like you I travel on business and use Premier Inn’s but I have found since the pandemic that some of the older hotels are not very pleasant to stay in so I now filter by only using the newer hotels and am prepared to pay more for another chain if there is not a newer Premier Inn close by – wondered what your take on the potential impact on the Premier Inn brand this might have?

    1. Author

      Yes, I agree Martin. I have found that some of the older hotels need some refurbishment. Ruthless consistency is everything. So, if in the fullness of time there is too much variance between experiences (whether you are staying at a newer or older Premier Inn), that could potentially lead to dissatisfaction with the brand.

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