Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday Marketing Memo

The Store as Brand: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets
Smart and savvy retailers have learned that the store is their brand. It's not a 100 percent case of course but the retail store itself is a very significant, essential and central aspect of the brand. Gone are the days when retailers merely thought of their retail stores as a simple box where products were merchandised on shelves and design was an afterthought.

Successful retailers today take into consideration design elements, how the store is laid out, the type of fixtures used, what kinds of departments to include--and how large they should be--and many other details when building or remodeling a store. All these ingredients combine to create not only a store but how consumers perceive the retailer. In other words the brand identity for any retail company begins and ends with its stores. And the store's identity can make or break a retailers brand by and large.

A retail company that takes the store as brand very seriously is UK-based retailer Tesco, the third largest grocery retailer in the world. Tesco takes great pains to make sure the design of the store reflects the brand image the retailer wants to create and project. The store's graphics, colors, type of fixtures, perishables departments and product selection are all selected after careful evaluation based on the retailer's brand premise for the particlular retail banner format.

Tesco also has created a brand image in the UK and other parts of the world with its extensive, high quality prepared foods offerings. These products, some sold self service (grab-and-go), others sold via full-service cases to go and in in-store restaurants, all carry Tesco's own retailer brand. These offerings have helped create an image for the retailer as one of the finest upscale in-store food purveyers in the world. They also are a major drawing card for shoppers who want convenience but along with high-quality prepared foods.

Tesco is bringing this serious, thoughtful focus on the store as brand to the development of its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's chain in the U.S. Slated to begin opening stores in November the Fresh & Easy Chain's stores are about 10,000 square-feet in size and carry a complete selection of upscale, prepared foods, including grab-and-go offerings and other more formal dishes. The stores also will have a full selection of specialty, gourmet, natural and organic groceries, produce, meats and other perishable items in addition to a selection of basic groceries.

The Fresh & Easy stores are being designed to look upscale but not too frilly as to suggest they offer "high priced" goods. They also are being built to strict energy saving and environmentally-friendly standards, according to Tesco executives. Such green elements as extra-thick insulation, super energy-efficient perishables cases, the use of skylights, and in some cases solar panels on the roof, are all design elements not only premised on being good environmental retailers but also on lending themselves to brand creation at retail. The store as the brand.

Tesco's wants the Fresh and Easy Brand to stand for convenient high quality, fresh and other foods at reasonable prices, offered by a retailer with an impeccable image that is environmentally aware and practices good green standards.

In terms of the store design Simon Uwins, Tesco's Chief Marketing Office in charge of the retailer's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets launch in the U.S., says "The outside of the store itself is like a brand statement."

In an extensive interview with the marketing publication The Hub Uwins talks about the Fresh & Easy stores as the brand, along with many other marketing and operational plan elements of the stores, which are scheduled to open in California, Arizona and Nevada beginning in November of this year. Tesco plans 100 Fresh & Easy stores in the next few years.

The Hub interview with Uwins is the most comprehensive interview conducted and published to date with a Tesco executive about the Fresh & Easy concept and launch. The interview provides new information and details which haven't been discussed before now. We suggest the interview as must reading for our readers.

You can read the Simon Uwins interview ("Fresh as Tesco") with Tim Manners, editor of The Hub, here. You need to have Adobe Reader to download the interview. If you don't have Adobe Reader you can get a free download here.

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