The Amazing Shrinking Shops: is the Carrefour Market rebrand a sign of things to come?
After the Middle East’s superlative obsession, is big and anonymous finally being replaced with small, local and intimate? Precious de Leon ponders the possibilities.
June 26, 2011 3:04 by Precious de Leon
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” goes that famous line from that tragic Shakespeare story.
Well a lot actually, if marketers and brand owners had anything to say about it. And the same applies to Carrefour, which recently announced it is rebranding its compact-version stores from Carrefour Express to Carrefour Market.
While on the surface it may just seem like a retailer that’s tweaking branding, Kipp thinks that when the world’s second largest retailer (after Wal-Mart) does something, it means ever slightly more—chalk it up to occupational hazard.
Is the fact that the company known for its big-box format is shifting its focus on its smaller shops an indication that ‘big’ is out and ‘small’ is in?
“Particularly in the Emirates, Carrefour is focusing on smaller stores to continue growth,” Vincent Verdier, an analyst and director at the consultancy Kantar Retail told The National in an article reporting the rebrand. “The opening of big 10,000 square foot markets will get reduced in the future. That’s quite particular to the Emirates.”
Kipp remembers when Rodney Fitch, founder of design agency Fitch, visited Dubai about four or five years ago and made the forecast that customers will soon prefer the smaller community retailers rather than the big-box stores and malls. Of course this was the time when Dubai Mall was just about to launch and was also around the time when Mall of Arabia was being planned for construction. Yes, remember? Mall of Arabia in Dubailand…yes, Dubailand. Kipp’s sure it’s all coming back to you.
So maybe Fitch (the man, not the agency) was just a few years ahead of his prediction. Maybe it’s slowly happening now: Mall of Arabia, which was supposed to compete with Dubai Mall in monstrous size, has been long been swept under the rug; the world’s second biggest retailer puts its focus on its smaller shops; and the expansion of the likes of homegrown retailers like Souq Extra!, which is specifically designed to cater to the smaller community.
While Kipp doubts that huge malls will be completely out of the picture, when it comes to where the growth is most likely coming from, Kipp’s got one thing in mind: these days, good things come in small packages.