Our senses have considerable value, for both those of us who do our shopping for food and for those of us who provide the environment for food shopping. While during this pandemic most of us have lost the opportunity to experience the retail environment in all its glory, we as customers and as retailers must not forget that a change is coming.
We have experienced the difficulty of smelling products and aromas of food prepared by chefs or bakers due to our masks and lost the want to ask questions about a product by fear of spreading or catching the virus.
We have lost the ability to taste new products for the same reasons. However, we must remain focused on offering a better environment in the future. An environment that once again provides a higher opportunity to show, tell, and sell the reason why supermarkets are and will be the perfect environment for showcasing a valuable experience for all our senses.
Taste and touch have become largely unusable sensations during the pandemic but remain as important to the success of the supermarket experience as any of the other senses.
I believe the deletion of these sensory uses during the pandemic has in great part increased the use of online purchasing of food items but will eventually provide a reason for the comeback of food retail business at the supermarket environment.
Two senses that will continue to add value within the in-store shopping experience and in the future are our use of sight and that of storytelling communication.
As a designer, I have long believed that in retail the idea of “unseen, untold, unsold” has well explained the concept of retail since the beginning of time. My theory of retail has always included the presentation of an item in a way that it is displayed to be noticed, or better stated, ‘seen.’
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A well-displayed item adds value in the eyes of the buyer. In terms of food retailing, seeing takes on a wealthier, richer, value because as humans we buy through our eyes. The value of colors, textures, arrangements, lighting, freshness, and safety are mostly perceived through our eyes first.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the retailer to make sure that the visual presentation of products, whether packaged, raw, or cooked, is seen and perceived at its highest value to create the best shopping experience.
Another truth about retail is the idea that the price of an item increases according to its perceived value. When there is a story, a history, or an explanation that requires communication of some sort, be it spoken, written or compared to in the form of an explanation of its value, use, benefit, etc. i.e. branding, compassion and emotional attraction is added to the item and therefore perceived to be more valuable.
The idea of communication has many dimensions: verbal, written, marketed in a conscious or unconscious display, but at the end of the day, the product needs a voice to communicate what, why and how that makes the offer a valuable purchase for the consumer in their shopping experience.