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Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp

Emerging in post-war Europe as small austere stores, carrying a lean selection of private-label items displayed in their shipping cartons, hard discounters nowadays no longer operate at the fringes of the modern Western retailscape. Instead, they have become true value innovators, and a serious threat to full-service retailers. This chapter documents the rise and success of hard discounters. After characterizing the format, it explores the reasons behind their growing success: next to stagnating incomes, recessions and the smart shopping phenomenon; these include the development of hard discount banner names into brands in their own right that signal high quality, easy decision-making and a satisfactory shopping experience. The chapter discusses the future outlook for the format, and assesses the consequences for full-service retailers and manufacturer brands.