Mega-retailer Wal-Mart has published the logo (pictured above) for its new, small-format grocery stores called Marketside, as part of a government trademark filing the retailer made this week.
The new stores, which should open this summer in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan region to start, will be about 15,000 square feet.
Thus far, Wal-Mart has applied for liquor licenses for three Marketside "Small-Marts" in the Pheonix region, according to filings there. We know the size of the stores--15,000 square feet--because its listed in the liquor license applications. We also expect the retailer to file at least one more liquor license application soon for a fourth store in the region. As we reported earlier, our sources tell us Wal-Mart's initial plans are for at least four of the small-format markets in the Phoenix suburban area.
The Marketside stores at 15,000 square feet are nearly a third the size of the retailer's current smallest-format grocery store, the 45,000 -to- 48,000 square foot Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. Le Petite Wal-Mart the Marketside format is indeed.We were one of the first publications to break the story about Wal-Mart's development of the Marketside format back in 2007, when a group of the chain's executives were camped-out in the San Francisco Bay Area researching the small-store format. We've continued to write about the development extensively.
Here is a summary of what we know about the Marketside format thus far:
>The Marketside stores will feature a limited assortment of basic grocery items and a selection of more upscale specialty and natural foods dry grocery items. The stores also will feature fresh meats and produce. The small-format grocery markets will have a selection of fresh, prepared foods' items similar to what Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format stores in California, Arizona and Nevada have. However, we don't know how extensive the Marketside "Small-Marts'" prepared-foods item mix will be. Fresh & Easy's selection is extensive, and ranges from basic items like macaroni and cheese and meatloaf, to more upscale items like beef steak tips in burgundy sauce and gourmet ethnic prepared foods selections. Fresh will be a major positioning statement and merchandising element of Wal-Mart's Marketside stores.
>Wal-Mart has trade marked two "brand" names, "City Thyme" and "Field & Vine." We suspect these will be two private label brand names the retailer will use for grocery and fresh foods' products in the "Small Marts."
>Two commercial real estate sources tell us Wal-Mart executives have looked in Southern California and Northern California for store locations for the small-format Marketside stores, in addition to Arizona where the first three or four stores will open. [Most of Tesco's Fresh & Easy grocery stores in Arizona are located very close to where Wal-Mart will locate its first stores in the Phoenix metro region. Southern California is the largest target market region for Fresh & Easy stores. Tesco will open at least 18--and probably as many as 40--Fresh & Easy markets in the San Francisco Bay Area beginning in late 2008 or early 2009.]
>Wal-Mart has been working on a major project for some time to develop one or more brands/lines of fresh, prepared foods. We've talked to suppliers in the product development and prepared foods businesses who've told us they've had conversations with Wal-Mart executives regarding the program. We expect the Marketside stores will play a big part in the merchandising of these prepared foods items when they are completed. We aren't sure if Wal-Mart will have certain brands like the ones mentioned above exclusively in the small-format grocery stores. In fact, it's likely the retailer will merchandise the new, prepared foods brands in all of its retail food store banners--Wal-Mart Supercenter, Neighborhood Market and Marketside--as a way to create and extend brand equity.
>Sources have told us Wal-Mart is looking at an urban strategy, as well as a suburban one (the three Arizona stores to date are suburban) for the Marketside "Small-Marts." The retailer is particularly interested in being able to locate the 15,000 -to- 20,000 square foot grocery markets in places they've been unable to put Supercenters because of local government and community group opposition. These regions include the San Francisco Bay Area, other parts of Northern California, and in portions of Southern California. Look for a Marketside store or two in the heart of San Francisco sometime in the not to distant future.
Wal-Mart's Marketside stores are obviously directly targeted at Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, although the world's largest retailer from Bentonville, Arkansas says they are merely an extensive of the chain's on-going new format development program.
Tesco has to date opened 43 (in only three months) of the small-format (10,000 -to- 13,000 square feet), convenience-oriented Fresh & Easy grocery stores in Arizona, Southern California and Nevada. Fresh & Easy stores sell a limited assortment of everyday grocery items, specialty and natural/organic groceries, fresh produce and meats, some nonfoods, and an extensive selection of fresh, prepared foods. About 65% of the items in the store are sold under the Fresh & Easy store brand. Everyday low-price, especially on the basic grocery items, is a major part of Fresh & Easy's positioning, along with "fresh."
The Marketside banner will be the first new banner in the U.S. for Wal-Mart in about 20 years, according to some esxtensive research we did on Wal-Mart retail format development a couple months ago.
The Marketside logo, which was published on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website as part of the filing, features marketside in lower-case green lettering, next to an attractive pile of fresh food items stacked one atop the other. The logo screems "Upscale," yet minimal; "Green," not just because the lettering is the color green, but subtextually in the environmental sense of the word as well; and "Fresh," depicted by the stacked fresh food items. The logo also has a minimalism to it as we mentioned above, perhaps suggesting the small size of the grocery stores and the "simple" convenience of shopping in them?
>To locate numerous other pieces we've written on what we call the "small-format food retailing revolution in America" just type in (one phrase at a time) keywords like small-format grocery stores, Small-Marts, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market and small-format revolution in the search box at the top of the blog.