We visited the new M&S Clapham Junction Foodhall to see the brand’s new store format and product range.
Sustainable shopping set up
The store design has been overhauled with a contemporary new look and feel. There’s noticeably less plastic packaging and the VM focuses on seasonality, transparency and encouraging customers to make more sustainable choices.
To make real changes to shopper behaviour, actions must be easy and effortless for the customer. Making the sustainable choice must become a non-option. M&S returns to traditional grocery service, enabling customers to pick, weigh and buy as much as they need, reducing the likelihood of food waste.
New emphasis on local
In partnership with urban farming experts Infarm, M&S has unveiled an urban farm on its shop floor. A small footprint of the fruit and vegetable section is now dedicated to vertical farming containers growing fresh herbs, such as basil and parsley, that are harvested bi-weekly.
The herbs grown in store use 95 per cent less water than traditional farming methods and are a carbon neutral choice, with no food miles behind them. No chemical pesticides are used in the growing process.
87 per cent of customers would prefer to buy from companies and brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, (JWT, 2018) and this initiative has strong pulling power for the conscious consumer.
However, the scalability of this initiative is questionable. The urban farm is small, and the stock produced is even smaller. In the short-term, the cost of running this technology may outweigh the profit made.
The in store urban farm has a long way to go before it becomes a solution to the Brexit supply chain crisis, but in the meantime it’s boosted M&S’ public perception as an sustainable innovator.
Optimising products for now
The new supermarket format has an emphasis on fresh convenience. In addition to the brand’s standard selection of food-to-go, from sandwiches to sushi roles, the brand has now introduced a pizza oven at the back of the store.
Customers choose from a selection of M&S pizzas to be taken away in a branded takeaway box. The service enhances the product, creating an experience around the pizza. This capitalises on customer spontaneity and tapping into in-the-moment cravings.
It’s good to see M&S moving towards a sustainable solution for packaging with energy and personality, given the amount of convenience packaging they are known for. As M&S plans to launch vertical farming in six more stores before the end of the year, our next big question is this: can this concept scale and really offer shoppers more of what want they want locally, or is it just a showcase feature?
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