Look first to food retail design

Think what’s on the menu is the be all and end all of your food premise success? Think again. Food retail design is where it is at. Breakthrough branding can only be achieved with insightful food retail design as the foundation.

Just what is food retail design? In essence it is the strategic tailoring of your entire premise and dining experience to fit your specific target market. Yes, this means you will need to know your desired patron profile inside out.

Considering food retail design in action can be one of the clearest ways to understand the power of this discipline. Case in point, Morrisons store chain in the UK.

Our story begins with Morrisons having plenty to celebrate. The chain was highly recognised and respected as a leading presence in the out-of-town food chain market. Inspired food retail design was pivotal in achieving such breakthrough branding alongside a clear proven business model.

Having conquered that mountain, Morrisons looked to expand. The next summit in its sights yielded a very different landscape. Morrisons diversified into the high street with several centrally appointed convenience stores.

Success in this endeavor was not to be, though because Morrisons neglected its food retail design. In doing so, Morrisons high street convenience stores fell short in terms of:

  • Exclusivity
  • Intimacy
  • Quality

All of these ingredients are close to high street consumers’ hearts. Had Morrisons conducted its consumer due diligence and customised a new food retail design strategy to match the unique proclivities of high street consumers, their venture may have floated rather than failed.

Unfortunately, Morrisons did not do this and consumer uptake has been immensely sluggish. Now all Morrisons high street convenience stores are shutting up shop and the chain is pulling out of the high street market somewhat shamefaced.

What are the food retail design lessons we can learn from the Morrisons case study? Essentially customisation is key. Every target consumer group has its own specific lifestyle, requirements, preferences and interests. If your food premises is not wholly attuned to these, your patrons will look for greener pastures.

Morrisons simply could not take its mass market out-of-town food store concept and roll out a smaller version of this to discerning high street consumers. The two distinct consumer groups could not be more different if they tried. Failure to recognise such differences and create a new brand story for its high street venture cost Morrisons its diversification success.