Street Food(ie) Supermarket Experiences

Oct 22, 2018 | Convenience, Food & Beverage, Grocery, Retail Design

Street Food is shaking up the UK’s palate. As more and more exotic stalls pop up across towns and cities, Brits are sampling everything from Indian tacos to sushi sandwiches and sweet bao buns.

According to a recent study by MCA, the UK street food market should reach £1.2bn in 2018, up 9.1% from 2017. Foodies are a driving force behind this – nearly a third say they often buy street food, compared with just 5% of non-foodies, according to a poll of over 2,080 consumers conducted by Harris Interactive.

While the streets are filled with the tastes and aromas of far-flung shores, supermarkets are yet to offer an engaging street food experience. They’re still mainly focused on selling ingredients to prepare and eat elsewhere. Street Food is everything supermarkets are not – spontaneous, flexible, outdoors, local, authentic and changing. Above all, it’s about bringing prep, cooking, and consumption close together.

That got us thinking – how can supermarkets offer experiences and formats that tap into this growing market – and the foodies behind it? We set down this gauntlet to our studio – and here’s what they came up with.

Concept 1: ‘Street Food market’ (super)store

Supermarkets rethink their current locations to become destination food markets, using indoor and outdoor space to provide a richer mix of food offers to consume on the spot or later. Street Food Markets and Gourmet Markets have a unique energy/buzz, so to do this retailers need a new set of principles about variety, change, and energy – in a setting that feels good and has a sense of place.

Concept 2: Store experience reborn

Are in-store butchers and fishmongers too strongly linked to an age when buying fresh ingredients to cook from scratch was more the norm? Supermarkets are still in the food business, but do they need to move on now that they’re preparing, serving and enabling consumption in-store? This isn’t about providing a café or token juice bar, but instead about destination Street Food areas that regularly change with events, local vendors etc. It could be a central hub located on the sales floor, or it could be used to improve the dreary post-checkout retail area as a mini Street Food market.

Concept 3: Local excitement

Local and express store formats are more often than not a smaller/lesser version of their homogenised big brother superstores. They’re good for the basics, top ups, and distress purchases, but they’re essentially joyless, functional visits for shoppers. Often located in high footfall urban areas, why not completely change all this with the introduction of drop-in food stalls that are easily accessed and connected to the street through open shop fronts? They would provide freshly served deliciousness at a much more affordable price than the independent Street Food vendors, who are seen by many as a Friday special lunchtime treat rather than a daily dining convenience option.

Concept 4: Take the mountain to Mohammed

With all the potential barriers and legacy perceptions of supermarkets, perhaps it’s best to take the Street Food offer out of the traditional supermarket setting altogether? Supermarket brands could use their scale and buying power to take Street Food to the people – think lorry trailers and shipping container pop-ups.

More reading:
Food is the New Retail
Case study: Te & Kaffi Permanent Pop-up
Case study: Serrano Mexican Kitchen
Case study: Create Your Inner Glo