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Comment: Viva la shop-in-shop revolution says Paul Howell of HRG

As the ever-changing retail landscape evolves to meet the needs of today’s complex, multi-channel shopper we are seeing a rise in the use and success of brand-owned zones in-store. These areas enable brand owners to create more theatre and encourage increased interaction with shoppers. As the modern shopper seeks a more experience-based retail environment, retailers who embrace this change could be the real winners.

By giving brands space to recreate their own identity and engage with shoppers, the retailer is able to provide its customers with more exciting, innovative environments to explore and immerse themselves in. We have seen the success of this approach in many different channels and store formats, particularly on the high street with fashion, sports, health & beauty and electrical leading the way.

So, is it now time for the major Grocery players to embrace this change? Some may point to the fact that these retailers want to keep their own identity at the forefront of shopper minds and prefer the brands sold in their stores to take a more passive role in the background. But the landscape is changing.

Grocery multiples seem to be focused on making sure their stores are clear and easy to navigate, so reducing the level of brand “noise” is seen as positive. Most brands are only restricted to the retailers own templated POS formats within stores, resulting in the brand playing a secondary role to the retailer.

While this approach may have worked for the grocery retailers to date, with the added pressure from increased competition – and the simplified and value driven proposition of discounters - the traditional multiple grocery retailers may now need to look at other solutions to drive footfall, and to offer shoppers something they can’t experience elsewhere.

Could a shift then to more brand owned zones in grocery create the ‘retailtainment’ shoppers crave? Is it time for grocery retailers to give shoppers more reasons to embrace the traditional format grocer, and in doing so provide the retailer with an additional revenue stream by offering brands the opportunity to “rent” branded spaces?

We may have seen the start of this revolution, with Sainsburys introducing a Godiva branded bay into the confectionery category last year. The resulting shift from the norm provided great standout for the brand, the ability to push beyond the constraints of standard store shelving and an improved experience for the shopper.

This feels like a win, win, win situation. A win for the retailer through an incremental revenue stream, increasing shopper dwell time and providing a point of difference in a competitive market; a win for the brand, with an enhanced shopper experience, portraying its product to the shopper as it wants, without the restrictions of templated media, and ultimately increasing sales; and, finally, a win for the shopper with an enhanced shopping experience.

It is unlikely that this would work for all brands as factors such as range and budget will have a major influence but there are plenty of brands with the right range, budget and desire to create a destination area in grocery retail. Only time will tell if this is the start of a brand owned shop in shop revolution.

Paul Howell is P-O-P specialist for HRG, part of the Altavia group

Photo: Melvyn Walker