Inspiration in retail


Kochhaus is a German grocer which presents customers products themed around recipes. A colleague returned from Berlin last week raving about their stores (above). Rather than an exhausting library of aisles the store is more a living recipe book, with a rotating selection of suggested ingredients for 20 recipes – starters, mains and deserts. You can even buy the cookware.

It’s a brave, distinctive approach to grocery retail. The surprising thing is that – although upmarket – it is not aimed at the super affluent. Meals start from around a fiver per person:

“The rules we make for ourselves are strict and easy to understand: no dish costs more than €10, about $13, a serving; no dish takes more than one hour to prepare; there are no more than twelve steps to any recipe; there are never more than twenty recipes to choose from in the store, although two new ones are rotated in each week.” Dorothée Stöber, Marketing Director, NYT 2010   

Kochhaus tells us something about choice. It’s tiring to think. The habitual auto-pilot of the weekly shop is a response to the retail environment: most ignore the 30,000+ products on offer and pick out the same 30 they always buy. This selective perception helps us cope: we can get in and get out of a shop promptly.

Kochhaus tells us something about the retail environment: it can make us snap out of autopilot. Beautiful presentation and in-store theatre achieves this in Kochhaus, perhaps  slightly more subtle than everyday grocery POS.

Kochhaus also tells us something about the future of grocery shopping. As the Grocer reported last week there is a growing reliance on internet shopping, driven by high petrol prices and digitally-savvy consumers.

In the UK this has wrong-footed even Tesco whose expansion strategy through huge out-of-town Extra hypermarkets now looks clumsy: in the words of Kantar Retail analyst Bryan Roberts they look like “expensive warehousing.”

Two questions remain.

In the future, if the role of the web for grocery retail is to escape the drudgery of the weekly shop, will the role of the store be to inspire?

UK supermarkets are operations-led businesses: is inspiration and theatre in grocery retail practical at scale?

Further reading:


Someone who has tried the food:

Another perspective:



About Simon Shaw

I'm a Director at an insight consultancy. I'm interested in marketing, market research & consumer psychology. The views expressed are not necessarily those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Choice, Consumer Psychology, Market Research, Marketing Research, Retail and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Inspiration in retail

  1. Andrew Niven says:

    Hi Simon, this reminded me of the excellent article in the Economist a couple of years back; The Tyranny of Choice. I’ll have to read it agin now !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s