“Grab the eggs & meet me by the sommelier”: dining with Waitrose

“Grab the eggs & meet me by the sommelier”: dining with Waitrose

Consultant Alex Dewdney continues our theme of reinventing retail spaces and Brand Stretch with a look at Waitrose’s recent innovations on the in-store experience.

Back in April, Waitrose announced the trial launch of a Supper Club at its newly opened Haywards Heath store in Sussex. At £35 a ticket, members of the public were invited to a three-course meal including a starter of brown shrimp cocktail and a delightful sounding chocolate pavé with salted caramel popcorn and buttermilk ice cream.

The Supper Club originally ran for eight dates in April and May with an extra date swiftly added due to raving reviews. Thrilled and buoyed up by its success, the supermarket chain is now planning how they can roll out the format in other stores.

On the surface, this feels like a clever PR stunt to promote the brands expertise in quality food, its ability to stay relevant and offer its customers a sophisticated experience above that of other supermarkets.

But Waitrose have spoken of a bigger vision: to turn their supermarkets into destinations for the evening, not just the day. This is more than a transitory PR execution, it’s a step towards making a store deliver real connections with customers: delivering experiences, which bring a brand story to life, and which give customers a story to tell. It hints at a fundamental shift in the purpose of the supermarkets physical space.

And Waitrose aren’t alone in their actions. With ecommerce and AI ever expanding, many brands are considering new roles for their bricks & mortar assets: from community hubs for like-minded people, such as the likes of Rapha, to Selfridges’ playful pop-up spaces and more, as explored by Emelie in a recent blog post.

It’s an exciting time for Retail – there’s a lot to play for. Who knows where we may be in the future? Visiting a city farm at Wholefoods? Going for a swim at Nike? Joining a soul choir at HMV?

Our perception of what the high street is all about will be stretched, that’s for sure.

 

For more on brand stretch and the power of brand ecosystems, take a look at our latest white paper.