Yesterday, Axfood opened its new Hemköp City flagship store which is piloting the banner’s new Vego concept for vegetarian food. The main aim is to inspire so-called flexitarian shoppers to try alternatives to meat by co-merchandising the two within each category. The trial originated from a recent study conducted by the retailer showing that 27% of Swedes would choose more vegetarian food if there were vegetarian alternatives next to meat based products.
The concept is to be trialled in several further stores in Stockholm this autumn with the ambition to roll it out to stores all over Sweden if successful.
Instead of catering to hardcore vegans by providing dedicated in-store departments, Axfood has realised it has more to gain from inspiring shoppers looking for vegetarian alternatives with these mixed displays. With the initiative it is yet again attempting to link category differentiation to the Hemköp brand. Two years ago it opened an organic store in Stockholm called Hemköp Reko accompanied by significant marketing support and category assortment upgrades. This strengthened the banner’s position significantly in the category.
The competitors Ica Gruppen and Coop are also reporting increased sales of vegetarian alternatives and launching private label products but Hemköp’s approach is the most holistic we’ve seen so far. When comparing the vegetarian assortments of Ica Gruppen and Hemköp’s online stores, both are more or less equal. However, in the end it’s the one that manages to put a spotlight onto its assortment and provide the best inspiration that will take pole position in the category. Hemköp has a good opportunity to claim that position if it can manage a quick roll-out of the Vego concept.