Brand Slam: Lidl vs Sainsbury's

From a gin-themed tour to a visit by the Queen, the retailers are upping their experiential game.

Sainsbury's: Queen visited anniversary pop-up
Sainsbury's: Queen visited anniversary pop-up


Event structure

The German discounter has worked with agencies including CSM Live, Catapult and The Black Arts Company.

Social footprint

@LidlGB has 338,000 Twitter followers, its German Lidl page on Facebook has more than 2.6 million "likes" and the @lidlgb Instagram account has 147,000 followers. 

Recent campaigns

Lidl's gin-themed tour, "House of Hortus", took place in October 2018 to promote the supermarket's Hortus gin range and other spirits from the retailer. The experience started in the Pink Gin Liqueur Lounge, where different flavours of Hortus' range were available to sample. During the event, visitors were immersed in a sensory botanical garden to learn about gin pairings.

In September and October, Lidl created a giant bag-for-life installation, touring Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester. It featured wine, cheese and cured meats tastings, with the supermarket aiming to create "memorable experiences" for customers and bring its "Big on quality, Lidl on price" promise to life.

Latest campaign

In April, Lidl showcased its beef products with a Dublin pop-up restaurant, where guests could dine in complete darkness. Called "Rare by Lidl", the activation used Lidl's Bord Bia quality-assured Irish beef for each dish. The experience started in a pitch-black dining room, with visitors guided to tables by waiting staff wearing night-vision goggles.


Event structure 

The supermarket giant has worked with agencies Hope & Glory, The Communications Store and BecauseXM.

Social footprint

@sainsburys has 522,000 followers on Twitter, more than 1.7 million "likes" on Facebook and 221,000 followers on Instagram. 

Recent campaigns

In May, Sainsbury's celebrated its 150th anniversary with a central London pop-up that was visited by the Queen, called "Since 1869: the Sainsbury's 150 experience". The Queen saw a replica of the supermarket's first-ever delivery bike and counters displaying the three items sold in the first stores: butter, milk and eggs. Visitors were taken on an immersive journey of the past 150 years, from the first family-run shop on Drury Lane in 1869 to the supermarket in the present day.

Tu, Sainsbury's clothing brand, launched a bra-themed pop-up in February that aimed to help women find the right bra after research found that many do not enjoy bra-shopping and are too embarrassed to ask for help. The "Tu boob pop up" hosted a series of events including drawing workshops and discussions.

Latest campaign 

To celebrate meat-free week in June, Sainsbury's encouraged customers to try more plant-based products by opening a meat-free butcher's shop in east London. The store featured a butcher trained for plant-based cooking, who shared recipe advice and tips to encourage awareness of meat alternatives. The experience aimed to mirror that of a visit to a traditional butcher's store, with customers able to choose a cut of the "best boneless bites" before the food is weighed and wrapped.

Campaign says 

Both supermarkets are using experiential across all its forms, from pop-ups to installations to more interactive events featuring workshops and debates. Sainsbury's has the edge here, though, by using occasions – such as its anniversary and the rise in meat-free diets – to showcase its products.

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