Lidl was the indisputable leader among Bulgarian commercial chains as far as their coverage by online News and Social Media goes. The seven largest FMCG chains in Bulgaria generated a total of 37,000 mentions across online channels in 2015. A considerable share of those mentions (74%) came from online forums, and bg-mamma.com in particular. This is the place where Bulgarian women gather to discuss shopping, the quality of stores and products offered there.
Factors influencing consumer choice
When assessing commercial chains, online users considered a number of factors. Judging by the sheer number of comments, the assortment of products at offer was the most prominent factor. Supermarket customers seemed rather sensitive to the lack of certain products they need or love. On the other hand, they were happy to find a product of a particular brand in the store they had entered. Product Quality, Promotions, and Prices were the other categories of significant importance to customers.
As already noted, Lidl was by far the most popular chain in Bulgaria. This has to do with the company’s rapid expansion in the country. Their hardline discounter policy was also a factor in Lidl’s emergence as the top Bulgarian chain. The other member of the Schwarz Group, Kaufland, took the second spot, some way ahead of the third most frequently mentioned chain – Piccadilly. However, the sheer number of mentions was not always the best way to measure how well a chain had performed. The bulk of Piccadilly and Carrefour mentions were, in fact, negative in terms of sentiment. Comments often mentioned the lack of goods at offer following the chains’ financial woes.
Lidl vs Carrefour
A comparison between Lidl and Carrefour across the various criteria established by consumers showcases both chains’ strong and weak points. Online users often praised Lidl’s great abundance of goods, low prices, as well as the quality of its own brands. Consumers were also pleasantly surprised at the quality of goods, given the cheap prices. On the other hand, many complained they did not have a Lidl store nearby. Their promotions were also somewhat unpopular online.
Online users had immediately spotted the lack of a great many basic goods, as result of the financial troubles Carrefour ran into in 2015. Consumers continued to discuss it by the end of the year and even during the most important of periods – the Christmas Holidays. The lack of motivation of Carrefour employees (possibly spurred on by expectations they would be sacked soon) contributed to the poor hygiene in the stores and to user complaints from the way they had been treated at the check-in. Still, consumers had not forgotten that the chain had some good quality products to offer. The one major factor Carrefour had going for itself was the stores’ location inside large commercial malls.