As the number four player among the big supermarket operators in the UK, Morrisons is perceived as being on the catch-up trail.
Address Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1
Nutmeg launch March 2013
Age range 0 to 13 years and adult ‘essentials’
It’s certainly the case that when it comes to clothing, this is a retailer that is a considerable distance behind its rivals. As a result Morrisons’ private-label clothing brand Nutmeg, which launched in March, has a lot of ground to make up. Nutmeg is almost entirely about clothing for babies and children up to the age of 13. There is a small range of “essentials” for adults, but this equates to not much more than underwear, socks and tights with, curiously, jewellery added into the mix.
01 VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Take a range of merchandise, double or triple hang it in open-sided wood-clad wardrobes and then stand back. That’s about as much as has been done with the Nutmeg offer in this large branch of Morrisons. The different parts of the offer are colour blocked and overhead there is a sign that states ‘girls’ clothing’, ‘boys’ clothing’, ‘baby clothing’ and ‘clothing’. This would be fine, but it is in the same font as the signage indicating where ‘baked beans’ and ‘soup’ can be found, for example, meaning this feels like just another commodity. At the shelf-edge level, the pictures of children clad in the product are functional and supermarket cute enough, but fail to deliver any kind of call to action.
Whoever was responsible for the design of the display units in this store might have done well to take a look at how fashion and clothing and displayed in other retailers. The reality for shoppers is that this looks like little more than a response to cost control and volume merchandising, although the graphics package on the end of each unit is enticing. Morrisons is effective at hammering home the price idea while presenting engaging images.
OK, so this is a supermarket and service expectations are perforce low. That said, the almost total absence of staff in the area left you wondering just how the department looked so cleanly merchandised with nothing on the floor and almost all of the sizes on display. The perhaps unfair conclusion might be that the offer is not being raked over as regularly as Morrisons might wish and indeed on the midweek day of visiting, getting through the space did not mean being troubled by other shoppers.
The product in Morrisons Camden is actually good and represents real value for money. There are few who would dispute the prices being charged, which are resolutely low, and the mix of brights, neutrals and branded character prints on the kids’ clothing have real appeal. It would be entirely possible to kit children out and make them look good following a visit to this store. When the move is made into men’s and women’s ‘essentials’ however, this is a doggedly utilitarian offer.
Tesco’s F&F, George at Asda and the soon-to-be-relaunched Tu range at Sainsbury’s all represent competition for Nutmeg and although Morrisons’ products may measure up, all of its rivals give shoppers a more positive in-store experience. Even at the clothing-as-commodity end of the market, there remains a consumer need to be inspired and the competition does this better. Couple this with the worlds of Primark and New Look, neither of which is more than a 10-minute tube ride away from this store, and Nutmeg may struggle to get away from the starting blocks in Camden.
06 VERDICT: An offer that fails to inspire
This is probably an inopportune moment to try to establish a private label unless money is thrown at the problem. Morrisons has come up with a perfectly respectable offer, but it has opted to do so in the face of slickly merchandised offers from the competition with the great majority being displayed in environments that are the result of long, hard design thought. If shoppers are minded to check this one out, then there is much to commend, but it may be a long shot getting shoppers into the area, given what has been done.