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Diversification Desperation

Our copywriter’s last grocery run included a bottle of wine, Babybel cheeses, rolling papers and loo roll. Except, this wasn’t a run. It was delivered to her door, by a man in an oversized helmet.

During the pandemic, the world was thrusted into a solely online way of living. Two years later, we have not only adjusted but comfortably adapted our everyday ways. From strolling the high street to scrolling Deliveroo instead, the in-store experience is dwindling from sight.

Which begs the question, how will retailers diversify to attract customers in store without falling victim to the ‘anything goes’ approach?

Up the ante, widen the appeal

Retailers are quickly realising the danger of keeping all their (organic) eggs in one basket. With next-day delivery and the instant purchase all-star that is Amazon, great prices neatly arranged on shelf aren't going to cut it. Whether it’s diversifying a brand portfolio or integrating digital experiences in store; to stay front of mind, retailers need to offer and create more memorable shopper moments.

Veggie Pret Soho, Pret a Manager

Branching out into different categories of retail does work. Zara has standalone homeware stores. Pret? Standalone vegetarian stores. It’s not a new retailer solution, however there are those who get it right and those who don’t get it at all. First, let’s tackle the former…

Cue Morrison’s Fresh Market


Now in London’s Canning Town and Manchester, Morrison’s standalone food-to-go experience distils the fun of a vibrant food market, while promising the quality and convenience of a grocer. An experience that attracts both new customers and existing ones. This portfolio diversification seems a natural step; one that feels both enticing but inherent for the brand.

Beales’ Health Village

Beales’, a lifestyle department store, has not just ventured but catapulted themselves into the wellbeing world. Their Poole store now has dedicated physical store space to help alleviate pressures on public healthcare services. Although a big jump for the department store, it feels like a considered diversification designed to consider the greater good. Whereas other attempts at diversifying can feel full of capitalist intent, this feels full of…care. Not to mention, it’s a PR pièce de résistance following the company’s liquidation. Beales’ new Health Village boasts an impressive line-up of healthcare services. Of which include, a breast cancer screening department, dermatology, orthopaedics, well-being rooms and counselling for long Covid patients. Now, you can buy a lamp and get checked for lumps, which is – to be utterly frank…handy.

Gone too far afield?

Yes, Virgin is successful, but the conglomerate’s success is by no means a step-and-repeat recipe for all retailers. When the start-up record store tried to branch out into bridal wear, naturally, the world’s response wasn’t, For the Win!

But more along the lines of, What the…you get it.

John Lewis the…landlord?

John Lewis & Partners

Luxe wicker picnic baskets, flamingo-shaped croquet sets and a fixed term lease agreement. The John Lewis portfolio has now ventured from ‘for your home’ to ‘find a home’. The retail giant is planning to expand into property development, taking on the role of landlord for up to 10, 000 real estate spaces. To us, this feels akin to Virgin Bridalwear. Not necessarily wrong for the brand, but just – why? John Lewis will have to closely monitor public sentiment as we all know too well…everyone hates their landlord. Best of luck, John Lewis.

Diversifying in the right direction

In a world where Tide Pods once became a snacking sensation, nothing is certain or sensical anymore. That being said, it’s clear that retailers who diversify their portfolio with a people-centric purpose, thrive. Where brands go wrong is assuming going bigger will ultimately mean better bottom lines. If your diversification is void of purpose…well, let’s just hope that bottom line doesn’t hit rock bottom.


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