- Aldi confirmed it had sold out of Prime just one day after the drink hit shelves.
- People waited outside shops before they opened to buy the coveted drinks.
- Aldi used clever strategy to create an illusion of scarcity and lure customers in, experts told Insider.
Huge lines formed outside Aldi stores across the UK on December 29, the day the German discounter put a drink called Prime Hydration on its shelves.
The bottles look unassuming. Large text on the side indicates the drink’s name, and the plastic is in bright block colours.
But the drink is the brainchild of YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI, and its release has drummed up a huge amount of hype, leading to a huge online resale market. The drink has been so hard to find that people have paid to download the Prime Tracker app.
Asda was the first UK retailer to start selling Prime, with the company limiting it to three bottles per person. But the release of the drink at Asda didn’t generate as much social media buzz as the Aldi release. Experts say Aldi used a clever strategy to lure in customers by creating a sense of exclusivity and the perception of scarcity.
Aldi launched Prime in the UK as a so-called Specialbuy, known as Aldi Finds in the US, which charges £1.99 ($2.40) per drink and limits customers to three bottles – one in each of the flavors it stocks. Aldi quickly ran out of the product, with some stores appearing to sell out within minutes of opening.
Aldi’s rollout of Prime was a “huge success”, said Richard Lim, managing director of consultancy Retail Economics.
Although Aldi is best known for its groceries, twice a week the retailer launches a new range of products, which can range from garden furniture and kitchen appliances to fitness equipment and food.
Aldi secures a set number of Specialbuys that it sells using the mantra “when they’re gone, they’re gone”, and Prime was no different.
“It was the right strategy,” Dr Ceyda Paydas Turan, senior lecturer in marketing at Kingston Business School, told Insider. She said selling limited stock of Prime created a sense of urgency, putting pressure on shoppers to buy it while supplies last.
To some onlookers, Aldi’s rollout of Prime looked like chaos. Bloomberg reported that more than 100 people waited outside a store in southwest London on the day the drink was released. But Paydas Turan said even the videos circulating on social media showing huge lines of people made shoppers want the drink more because it seemed rare and exciting.
Paydas Turan said that of all demographics, younger consumers in particular prefer limited-edition products because they make them “feel special” and create a sense of community. “Ownership of something so rare and highly desired is particularly attractive to young people,” Lisa Conway, senior lecturer in business and management at Chester Business School, told Insider.
The YouTubers have turned to their vast social media to promote the drink. Logan Paul has 24.6 million Instagram followers and 23.6 million YouTube subscribers, while for KSI these numbers are 12.4 million and 16.1 million respectively. The duo also partnered with British football club Arsenal to sell the drinks at matches.
The @drinkprime Instagram account now has 1.3 million followers.
Paydas Turan said it was “very tough” to operate in the beverage market, which has prominent brands such as Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé, but that the YouTubers were a “perfect match” to promote Prime, with many of their followers likely to be interested in a such a drink.
Aldi sold the drink for £1.99 a bottle and Prime sold 12-packs for £24.99 ($29.60) on its UK website before they sold out. Despite the huge demand for the product and retailers successfully listing drinks for £8 ($9.50) a bottle on eBay, Conway said Aldi probably stuck to a low price because it didn’t want to go against its reputation as a cost leader.
It is unclear how Aldi beat other retailers to get hold of Prime or how much stock it was able to pick up.
Prime is not the first time Aldi has hit the headlines for its Specialbuys. Sarah Montano, senior lecturer in marketing at Birmingham Business School, told Insider that Aldi was trying to reflect key trends with its limited-time offers, pointing to sales of deep fryers and home heating units as households try to cut back on gas and electricity consumption amid the energy crisis. Aldi is “very, very good” at positioning products as specials, Lim said.
Montano said grocery shopping was “pretty common,” with customers largely returning to the same stores based largely on proximity. But offering Specialbuys could help persuade customers to choose Aldi over other stores, she said.
Conway said Aldi was probably strategic with its timing, waiting for the Christmas rush to end. Aldi probably had other priorities during the holidays and didn’t want “the added complication of this coming,” she said.