I can no longer hide from it: I love supermarkets. They can be big or small (although, the bigger, the more fascinating), specialised or mainstream, busy or quiet, located in any country or continent…I love them all. I happily go around a supermarket ten times, pass the same section over and over again, and, in the end, spend 30 minutes to buy 5 items.
I think my obsession has become more prominent since I moved in the UK, where retail stores are very well implanted and have developed really strong brands. Whether they like supermarkets or not, UK citizens cannot deny that Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Morisson have become real institutions. They are on every street corner, offer a large range of services, and have very strong own labels. A recent study on brand love and hate in the UK shows that top retailers are all highly ranked in the top 50 of most loved brands. That’s food for thought.
What I enjoy most, is going to different supermarkets around the world and discovering the products that locals go crazy for. The size of the section dedicated to certain products is certainly indicative of local food preferences. Among my favourites.
- Olive oil and pasta in Italy (spotted this summer at my local holiday Bennet near Venice)
- Cheese and “Hageslag” in The Netherlands (They are chocolaty granules and a true winner from my latest trip at an Albert Heijn; so random!)
- Soy sauce in Asia (Oh the memories of living on top of an E-Mart!)
- Baked beans and tea in the UK (Tesco…my midnight shopping love)
- And then I guess Belgium would be big for its chocolate and beer sections? Let’s go for this…I’m sure Delhaize would support this claim.
Of course this all sounds very simplistic and stereotypical, … and it is in a way, because not all UK citizens are heavy bean eaters or all Italians swimming in seas of olive oil at every meal –Thank God.
However, I cannot help but be amazed by the selection of products in supermarkets, the way they are promoted and displayed, and how shops are indicative of the local culture.
Hopefully this slightly deranged view from a marketing geek reconciles you a bit with the much dreaded weekly trip to the store. I would love to know what products overload stores in your country, please share and enjoy your next grocery shopping trip!