Lidl, the German discount chain, has been under scrutiny following a documentary by ZDF that alleges the supermarket uses various tricks to increase sales and profits. Employees featured in the documentary
"LIDL: Die Insider" (The insider in German) explain how the company manipulates the shopping experience to encourage customers to buy more.
The tricks start with the shopping cart
One of the insiders reveals that the shopping carts are deliberately made larger so that the items look smaller, encouraging customers to buy more.
Additionally, the carts are tilted in a way that makes the items slide towards the handle, making it less likely for customers to see what they have already picked up and thus more likely to add more items.
Price tags placed above products
Unlike other stores where price tags are usually below the products, Lidl places them above. This is designed to confuse customers into picking up items they think are cheaper but actually belong to a different product.
Handling of fresh produce under criticism
The documentary also criticizes Lidl's handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, bananas are harvested unripe and then artificially ripened with gases, giving the supermarket more control over when they are ready for sale.
Own brands designed to mimic big names
Lidl's own products are designed to closely resemble original products, both in packaging and taste. According to the documentary, Lidl pressures manufacturers to produce these private labels by threatening to remove their branded products from the store's assortment.