Why Fortnum & Mason has a winning formula with its new experiential hub
Can an experiential center for food and drink lure a new generation of shoppers? Julie Oxberry, chief executive and co-founder at Household, considers the retailer’s latest move.
Fortnum & Mason’s ‘Creative Studio’ for food and drink experiences / F&M
“Go somewhere you’ve never been. Listen to someone you think may have nothing in common with… Eat an oyster. Have a Negroni. Have two. Be open to a world where you may not understand or agree with the person next to you but have a drink with them anyway. Eat slowly. Tip your server... Enjoy the ride.”
Anthony Bourdain paints an experience here, hinting at the importance of diversity and having a curious, open mind: qualities that will be vital to a brand like Fortnum & Mason as it seeks to become more relevant, to more people, more often. The opening of its new food and beverage space marks a new era for Fortnum & Mason fans, creating an opportunity to build on tradition by reaching new demographics and generations.
Steering a historic business into the future is a challenging feat. Juggling prestige and heritage with the demands of modern consumers can go very wrong if judged to be inauthentic. Success cannot be measured in sales alone, and heritage retailers must develop innovative strategies to attract new, younger and diverse fans.
With this new offer, Fortnum & Mason has created a destination where interacting with the food is celebrated, and amateurs, enthusiasts, experts and producers are encouraged to come together to explore fantastic food and drink experiences. Friendliness, accessibility, and availability must be at the fore, replacing distanced formality. Service should revolve around ultra-personalization, offering a wide variety of exclusive, carefully selected, sustainable products.
This taps right into younger audiences wanting unique, hedonistic, and personalized experiences that they can share on social media. Sharing is a potent way of communicating their emotions, and peer review has never been as important as right now for these customers. A recent study shows that 53% of consumers crave more immersive and personalized omnichannel shopping experiences. Having different touchpoints for customers to interact is not only necessary but crucial for brand survival.
The experience that Fortnum & Mason is introducing can work on so many levels: not just by engaging visitors in-store, but by giving the brand and its fans content to share across their networks, connecting their physical store experiences to other channels. In addition, guests can document and showcase their experiences on TikTtok and Instagram, further expanding the brand’s ecosystem.
Due to Fortnum & Mason’s quality, it now has many ingredients to make both new and heritage fans happy and enable them to tap into different emerging platforms and the best of British culture, uniting fans across different demographics. This is how…
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It is an authentic brand – a crucial driver for revenue and loyalty as the trend for more mindful consumer experiences continues to grow.
It has a rich history of innovation. With it being the first to sell Heinz Tomato Ketchup and the first to introduce pork pie, it can use this heritage to inspire what happens next, shaping new trends and experiences in this space.
With live cooking lessons and tasting sessions, it has a real opportunity to fully immerse its guests into the quintessential world of Fortnum & Mason by offering cookbooks and gourmet ingredients alongside these fun activations- transforming the space and blurring the lines between retailer and platform.
Lifestyle brands reaching new audiences on social channels are useful to reference: Issimo; the Dishpatch; BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen (a different demographic, yes, but it brings generations together over cooking, wine, music and education); in the physical retail space Donnybrook Fair in Ireland is smashing it with its ‘grocer-aunt’ format. The introduction of a food hall as an eating destination takes customers on an all-encompassing culinary-rich journey, naturally leading customers to explore an array of gourmet goods.
The magic of storytelling
It has heritage and craftsmanship, as well as bearing the values of the local artisan, and has fantastic products. With magical storytelling, a dollop of British quirkiness and modern values around provenance, sustainability and environmentally responsible agriculture.
Fortnum & Mason’s latest innovation is more than a ‘creative hub’. It’s a fully realized representation of a modern 21st-century luxury shopping experience. Its three centuries-long rich heritage has bought the retailer fame, fans and fortune.
At its core, Fortnum & Mason’s future success will come down to an intelligent mix of leveraging its tradition and existing brand love and converting this into a connected brand ecosystem that can reach out and touch a new wave wanting to engage with aspirational brands, on their terms and in new ways.
Fortnum & Mason will continue to thrive for another three centuries with the right ecosystem. “Eat slowly. Tip your server... Enjoy the ride.”