E.Leclerc or Lidl: each brand claims to be the cheapest, so who is telling the truth?

For months, E.Leclerc and Lidl have been competing remotely through advertising to ensure they are the least expensive. Who is right, who is wrong? It is not really easy for customers to navigate.

On radio, on TV, in newspapers: it’s impossible to avoid it for months. Both E.Leclerc hypermarkets and Lidl supermarkets claim to be cheaper than others and offer the lowest prices among major retailers.

It all started with E.Leclerc, its price comparison and “who’s the cheapest” application launched in 2008. The brand claimed to be naturally less expensive than its competitors. With inflation and a record 20% increase in food prices in 2 years, E.Leclerc has exploded over the counters, climbing to a 24.6% market share in France at the end of 2023. Never seen before. Lidl, which should benefit from its image as a discount supermarket, remains steady with an 8% market share (1).

So Lidl chose to fight back. Last September, the German brand in turn compared prices and loudly claimed to be 2% cheaper than E.Leclerc. Stung, E.Leclerc again compares prices and claims to be 6% cheaper than Lidl on private label brands (including Eco +).

A different method

To understand this communication war, you must first know that Lidl offers the same prices in all its stores in France, regardless of the region. This is not the case for Leclerc. Each hypermarket owner is independent and free to set his prices. For the same product, the price is not always the same between the two E.Leclercs.

Another data to consider: type of products compared. E.LEclerc claims its Eco+ cereal flakes are 75% cheaper than a packet of Lidl-branded Shoko Shells. But they are not really comparable. Lidl offers only its private label (MDD) while E.Leclerc offers its private label and Eco + brand products which are low-cost, entry-level products. Comparing better quality store brands and lower priced brands is not really fair.

In the same category, which is the cheapest?

To find out which is cheaper, Lidl or E.Leclerc, the magazine “Capital” on the M6 ​​bought 16 similar products (rice, orange juice, flour, Nutella, Panzani pasta, Herta ham, etc.) from the brand’s distributors and nationally. Brands at E.Leclerc and Lidl in Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine). The ingredients, recipes and weights were the same. Comparing receipts, Lidl was about 4% cheaper than E.Leclerc. An explanation for “Capital” from Michel-Edouard Leclerc, President of the Strategic Committee of Leclerc Centers: “On a limited number of products, you can always find cheaper competitors. We are the cheapest whenever we can be and from time to time, others tickle us.

Another test conducted by the France magazine “Complement d’Investigation” last September 2. 25 items of national brands, private labels and fruits and vegetables were purchased at Lidl and the same number were purchased at Leclerc in the suburbs of Rennes. On a similar comparison, it seems that Lidl is 3.1% cheaper than E.Leclerc. Another study published by Mass Distribution magazine linear In May 2023, the same conclusion was reached: in six cities tested, three Lidls were cheaper than Leclerc.

These differences are not general, as you understand, they only concern the stores tested in Levallois-Perret and Rennes. Depending on where you live, sometimes E.Leclerc will be cheaper than Lidl, sometimes Lidl will be cheaper than E.Leclerc. Many French consumers facing inflation visit an average of five stores to make their purchases, according to a 2022 study (2). More than ever, to find the cheapest, you have to compare.

(1) Kantar Studies/Editions Dauvers P12, December 2023
(2) An opinion path study was conducted between August 1 and 11, 2022, among 5,004 food product purchasing representatives of the French population aged 18 and over using the quota method.

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