Shopper Marketing - July 2017 - 8
y neighborhood in Chicago is just a few
steps off Milwaukee Avenue, aka "The
Hipster Highway," so named because thousands of Millennial bicyclists use it to commute downtown. When we arrived in 2002,
our little stretch was a relatively desolate
area of boarded-up storefronts, an abandoned elevated rail line used by heroin addicts, and a rat-infested junkyard with a ranting proprietor and constantly barking dogs.
We did have one store though - the "foodstamp Aldi" - so-named by locals because of
the German grocery chain's cash-only/boxyer-own groceries vibe, mysterious brands
and East-Berlin-blockaded-by-Russians approach to merchandising.
Recently, however, things have changed.
The city let developers create nearly a dozen
high-rise rental buildings on Milwaukee Avenue for Millennials who eschew cars. Called
y SHOPPER MARKETING JULY 2017
TODs (Transit-Oriented Developments),
some of these 200-unit buildings have just
10 parking spots. The theory is that the renters, those superior creatures of the new millennia, will bike, take the El and/or walk everywhere forever. Yeah... we'll see.
A developer leveled our original Aldi and
put up an eight-story TOD with a brand-new
anchor tenant: Aldi, the now 1,600-U.S.store-chain that's investing billions in remodeling and expansion plans. In half a
decade, if things go according to plan, Aldi
will be the #3 supermarket chain in the U.S.
behind Walmart and Kroger.
As Institute editor Cyndi Loza's visual tour
attests, Aldi '17 is fresher, both figuratively
in terms of decor and literally in terms of
produce, meat and bakery. But as I walked
the store, my Baby-Boomer eyes kept playing tricks on me. As I rounded
my first aisle, for example, I was
surprised to see Hershey, Twizzlers and Kit Kat logos on the
lowest shelves. I then drew my
eyes level up to Aldi's not-exactly-household brands Schogetten and Choceur. Well, as
the kids say in Mülheim, "Stack
'em high, watch 'em fly."
Farther along, I spotted a
freezer with one SKU of Twix ice