Waitrose goes vegan sane

Today I heard the News that Waitrose are about to launch a dedicated vegan section in 125 stores across the UK on June 4th. I hope my local store is one of them.

There will be 50 new vegan products introduced into the aisles as Waitrose increases its plant-based range by 60%.

Waitrose are also going to add a clearly identified vegan section to make it easier to find plant-based products.

They will also be adding Two new exclusive brands:

The Vegetarian Butcher (the newest generation meat substitutes from the Netherlands) and The Happy Pear (from Irish foodie twins Stephen & David Flynn).

The new plant-based product ranges will include snacks as well as ready meals and vegan-friendly ingredients.

Why can’t all Supermarkets do this

Let’s face it, if you eat meat, you wouldn’t want to accidentally pick up a veggie sausage now would you. That’s even more important as a vegan. You don’t want meat or dairy anywhere near pure plant based products that you want to eat.

I am worried about picking up the wrong things in a disorganised supermarket filled with illegible product labels. And fed up with having to brush away split bags of meat products from the bags of vegan food in the supermarket freezer.

At the moment I go into the local health food shops to buy for my “vegan wife”. I just head for the vegan aisle and I know I’m safe. Sure there’s less choice, but who cares, we’re not losing out and it literally takes just minutes.

I can’t wait for the 4th June launch

Waitrose will be the very first UK supermarket to have a purely vegan section rather than have vegan plant based food dotted all over the whole store in between meat and dairy products.

This will make shopping easier and more focused for not just vegans but also vegetarians and omnivore meat-eaters alike.

All vegan food will be in one place rather than next to non-vegan items that will never appeal.

It makes perfect sense commercially

Waitrose sales of veggie foods have gone up 34% against last year. The number of vegans in the UK is growing year on year. Commercially this is a sensible move.

We have gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, and non-meat specific brands such as Quorn all taking pride of place at the moment.

The isolation of vegan friendly food in one area will present a fantastic marketing opportunity both in-store and for advertising.

It reduces the risk of eating the wrong product

Being vegan, vegetarian, gluten or dairy free is not always a choice for some people. In a mixed shelf supermarket it could be an accident waiting to happen.

I’m over 55 and so my close up eyesight is failing, especially when checking the food labels or when trying to cook the stuff. Thankfully I don’t have any allergies.

For someone who is medically intolerant of some ingredients, the risk of accidentally taking home an allergen loaded product is currently very high.

For instance, vegan cheese isn’t a dairy product. It’s not real cheese, it’s fake cheese. So why put it in the dairy aisle that’s full of lactose that could make someone very ill.

Making such a simple change in the aisles like this would make it harder for someone with poor eyesight to end up ill from eating the wrong product.

I’m fed up with in-store visual merchandising

Unfortunately supermarkets would ideally like you to traverse every single aisle of their very expensive real-estate in order for you to see all of their special offers tempting you to buy more.

That’s why they keep moving the chocolate biscuits, milk, cucumbers, steak, pasties, pizzas, ice-cream and have ends of aisles that could have absolutely anything hidden inside.

And yet it seems as though no supermarket until now has had the same thinking that customers have every second they have to search for their food.

Why can’t the same ingredients be grouped together?

This makes more sense

What a fantastic idea for all the supermarkets to follow. You would think that common sense would ensue, that like ingredients and food would be grouped together.

Just as in my opening lines above. Vegans would not want to be cross-sold or up-sold anything other than vegan products.

Omnivores like me would know exactly where to get their healthy eating fix, and vegetarians would be catered for automatically

Supermarkets would naturally get more repeat happy customers. Because the customer focused product organisation will make sense to shoppers therefore causing less distraction. One of the biggest causes of forgotton purchases.

This will also give the customer more time to grab a special offer on the way in, or on the way out at the till point. Which is where Waitrose put special offers at the moment.

Is this the future model for all supermarkets

It’s nice to see that Waitrose are showing that they are listening to customers. By actively trying to make the shopping experience easier rather than continue the current merchandising madness.

You never know, one day all supermarkets may follow suite and stop using stupid in-store visual merchandising tricks to get you to buy more food. And instead take the time to work with the customer and organise the store the way the customer wants.

This will create loyalty and gain automatic up-sells because enticing alternatives will logically be in the correct place. Whilst showcasing special offers in a consistent position to cross sell non-related items, just like it used to be.

Well done Waitrose & J.L.P for leading the way back to sanity and good customer service.

Posted in Food & Drink, Vegan Food and tagged .

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