Retail Safari: three alternative formats in Soho, NYC

Date : 27 April 2016

We recently visited the Soho district in New York to visit alternative store formats. The three distinct concepts can provide companies with a number of valuable benefits:

  • Supplier branded stores: help companies to grow brand awareness, showcase their products, demonstrate how they can be used beyond core occasions and function as an important testing ground
  • Online retailers moving offline: offer shoppers added convenience and enable customers to better experience relevant products and brands, while also reaching out to new customer groups
  • Independent category specialists: provide inspiration for new product flavours and formats, packaging and store design

Chobani: the supplier branded store

Chobani, one of the leading Greek yoghurt manufacturers in the US opened its store in Soho in 2012. Developed as a ‘yoghurt bar’ the store/café offers a range of sweet and savoury products. All have Chobani’s products as the base, which shoppers can customise with a range of toppings. In addition it also offers a range of sandwiches, soups and desserts which are all made with its Greek yoghurt.

Source: IGD Research

The store features a contemporary design, with a look and feel which enables it to blend seamlessly into the Soho environment. Digital screens also help bring the menu to life. Supplier branded stores are increasingly seen as a key way for companies to grow brand awareness, showcase their products and demonstrate how they can be used beyond core occasions. They can also function as important testing stations for new products, and for new flavours and variants of existing products. Later this year PepsiCo will open a restaurant in the city. ‘Kola House’ will offer a range of “craft cocktails” and food items inspired by the kola nut.

Source: IGD Research

Birchbox: online to offline

Birchbox is one of a number of online specialists which has made the transition to develop a physical presence. The store, from the leading beauty subscription service, enables customers to build their own custom box and test new products at its ‘Try Bar’. In addition, customers can book hair, makeup and nail services. It has been developed to reinforce the retailer’s beauty credentials and position it as a lifestyle brand. It also enables Birchbox to learn more about its shoppers and how they use its products.

Source: IGD Research

Developing brick-and-mortar stores has been on the agenda for a number of non-food retailers. Amazon, Indochino and Warby Parker have been among a number of companies which have established stores to enable customers to better experience their products, and reach new customers which may not be aware of their brands. In addition, they also add an element of convenience, in some cases enabling shoppers to collect online orders and process returns.

Source: IGD Research

Doughnut Plant: the product specialist

Soho is an important destination for a large number of food retailers and suppliers due to the large concentration product specialists which operate in the area. This is particularly the case for the bakery category, with a range of operators which focus on individual products such as Doughnut Plant and Georgetown Cupcakes. Many of these operators are at the forefront of product and flavour trends, with Doughnut Plant credited with developing a number of iconic products. Operating from a small footprint, it benefits from a high level of customer traffic, with social media playing a key role in generating brand awareness.

Source: IGD Research

Visiting specialist stores such as these can also provide inspiration beyond the actual products. New ideas can also be developed from innovative packaging concepts and aspirational store designs, particularly as grocery retailers increasingly focus on differentiating their stores through a more experiential approach.

Source: IGD Research

IGD Retail Safari: study tours

Looking to learn more about these operators and stores? New York is a key destination for our study tours.

At IGD we have a team dedicated to facilitating study trips for retailers and manufacturers. Gaining perspectives and learnings from other markets can help you to:

  • Drive your format and category innovation
  • Discover new product and packaging trends
  • See the latest display concepts
  • Understand successful price and promotional tactics
  • Get important face time with your trading partners through joint study tours

Through working with IGD, our team can build a customised and relevant tour for you and your teams, selecting the best stores for you based on your criteria and our unique insight into the operators in major cities in Europe and North America. We’ll join you on the tour, to lead and help you get the most from the session, and we can call on our extensive global network of retailer contacts to help you get unique access to stores and operations.

Talk to our team today to see how we can support your innovation strategy and drive business performance.