According to the OECD two-thirds of the world’s middle class are predicted to be living in Asia by 2030, and with Asian consumers eager to try products from all over the world, the region has become a hotbed for innovation and testing. In this article IGD’s Senior Retail Analyst – Asia Jenny Li looks at three key areas of best practice from Asia’s premium retailers.

1. Increasing the appeal of international products

There has been an influx of international products and brands into Asia in recent years and upmarket grocery stores have experimented with a wide variety of promotional and merchandising tactics to market these overseas offerings.

It’s common to see country flags and bold signage in-store to communicate product provenance; this is pivotal as it delivers reassurance on authenticity and quality, with Western products seen as adhering to higher standards.

Ole’ Shanghai

Source: IGD

Some retailers regularly feature country themed events which offer great opportunities for cross-merchandising.

The Great Food Hall in Hong Kong, for example, organised a Japanese food festival to tap into the growing appetite for Japanese snacking, while Jasons’ creative Eiffel Tower fixture attracted shoppers’ attention to a range of French agricultural products.

Great Food Hall in Hong Kong Jasons in Singapore

Source: IGD

2. Promoting (relatively) new categories

Tea was introduced to the UK in 1657 but only became part of British daily life in the 18th century. In the same way, it takes time and effort (but hopefully not as long!) to cultivate Asian consumers’ interest in new categories, such as wine and cheese. Retailers play an important role in this process by introducing new products to shoppers and educating them.

If we take wine as an example, we’ve seen some stores offer professional advice to help shoppers choose from a vast array of options, while wine tasting events help to engage and inform them.

Jasons in Singapore

Source: IGD

Another way to convince shoppers to try a new product is to highlight its health benefits. This approach has been applied in many categories including olive oil, organic fruits and vegetables.

In the Ole’ Shanghai store, illuminated signs are widely used to communicate the nutritious values and health benefits of various fruits.

Ole’ in Shanghai

Source: IGD

3. Upgrading food-to-go and food-for-now solutions

As residents of Asian megacities have busier lifestyles and smaller families than before, local supermarkets are evolving as destinations for takeaways as well as dining-in food. We’ve seen some new food solutions in-store that add great value to their overall offer and hence drive significant footfall into stores.

Central Food Hall Thailand has optimised its food counters creating an array of buffet bars, offering a superb selection of salad, delicatessen and cooked meals.

Central Food Hall in Bangkok

Source: IGD

Meanwhile, shopping and dining missions are blurring.

Foodmart Primo, PT Matahari’s premium banner in Indonesia, has a dedicated dine-in area where professional chefs cook meals that customers order directly from the menu. These innovations have helped transform the supermarket into a social venue and have increased shoppers’ dwell time.

Foodmart Primo in Jakarta

Source: IGD

Further implications

Though premium retailers are currently targeting a niche audience, it’s becoming clear that they will gain popularity in Asia as the affluent middle class grows.

International companies who currently operate in the region are putting more emphasis on supermarket and convenience stores, however in our opinion, premium stores are an equally great source of best practice and inspiration, as well as offering opportunities for growth.

 Source: IGD

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