Aldi did just this with their Asian and Australian reinventions. Realizing that the typical discount store environments are generally uninviting and cold — reinforcing consumer perceptions of low-cost shopping as a dreaded chore — Aldi boldly upgraded the store environment and made a hero of the quality of the products. The totally replanned floors articulate certain categories for greater consistency, with key products placed at aisle entries alongside appealing messaging.
Also, the produce, bakery, alcohol, and health and beauty departments were redeveloped. A palette of budget-minded yet real materials such as concrete, plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB) and rough sawn timbers bolster the perception of freshness throughout the store.
With new, glare-reducing LED lighting and witty, on-brand graphic illustrations reinforcing core themes of great value at low prices, quality and freshness, the new setup encourages customers to shop across the whole store while respecting the brand’s positioning as a low-cost budget option. The experience is moody, warm and modern, a pleasant and immersive customer journey guided by handwritten, illustrated signage rather than the shouty, noisy marketing one associates with discount chains.
Bigger changes demand vision. Retailers who are brave enough to adopt tomorrow’s winning design ideas have embraced a focus on "reinventing normal," which is ultimately all about applying common sense. It's a rational process that starts by articulating a desired outcome, then challenging whether history is the best way to achieve it. For example, when supermarkets were first introduced after the Great Depression, no one minded lining up at checkouts, because things were so much cheaper when bought in bulk. But three generations later, is this really the best use of the shop’s entrance? It’s hard to believe it could be so.
Looking at Esselunga again, their new floor design rotates the standard supermarket layout by 90 degrees, allocating payment to a cheaper zone and replacing the most prominent floor space with that glass box of production, previously hidden in multiple unseen places.
The prices didn't change but now the shop's window expresses what the grocer does best, which is making great-value fresh food. And, by the way, moving the on-site manufacturing teams into one place also makes the operations more efficient.
The Esselunga project team adopted the redesign proposal, created by Landini Associates and dubbed Dimmi, Italian for “show me” or “tell me.” Once agreed, this one word drove everything in a brave redesign. The results challenged normal and then “reinvented normal” -- for the better. If one really thinks it through, it all just made sense.
Mark Landini is creative director of Landini Associates, whose global team of designers and strategic thinkers deliver multi-skilled works melding strategy, architecture, interior, graphic, product, furniture and digital design. The firm works across all aspects of retail (including food) and hospitality.
Previously, Landini was creative director of the Conran Design Group, a role he inherited from Sir Terrance Conran, and Fitch RS, the world’s largest retail design consultancy.