Coeur de Nature is a new organic food store concept created by French leading hypermarket chain Auchan. A new competitor poised to take advantage of the ever growing and profitable healthy food market in France.
The concept has been tested for a few months in the Paris region on a 1,000 square meter format. But now, when it comes to penetrate inner Paris, Coeur de Nature has shrunk to less than 200 sqm, a legal threshold in France to open food store without too much of an administrative hassle. The first location is in the Barbès neighborhood, a popular environment in a process of gentrification.
Let’s explore the store in a short video.
With “Coeur de Nature”, Auchan is dealing with a tricky retail issue. How can you be relevant, price-competitive and profitable with that a small store in the French fierce competition. In my opinion, Coeur de Nature has made it possible, thanks to some innovative and radical features.
- Coeur de Nature branding obviously refers to an idealistic vision of nature and farming. Some may think that it is a bit cheesy but I found it very smart and efficient to showcase flowers on wooden pallets outside to engage visitors to enter the store. A bit of poetry in an urban and mineral environnement is welcome sometimes.
- The storefront features some straightforward messages that are supposed to generate footfall.
- The interior design is zen and contemporary. Not really creative though. Coeur de Nature looks like the vast majority of newly born convenience stores that target urban and demanding customers. Anyway, the store layout has been optimized, the lighting is efficient and the overall atmosphere is made pleasant.
- But the core of the concept is not about look & feel. First, Coeur de Nature is committed to encouraging people to buy in bulk a vast range of food and non food items. To get rid of unnecessary and toxic packaging is a commitment that is worth to support. And Coeur de Nature is taking this issue seriously.
- Coeur de Nature, as other healthy food supermarkets, gives visibility and space to cereals, dry fruits and spices in bulk. In fact, It has become one of the distinctive features of organic food stores throughout the country. However, the store is taking bulk to the next level : for example, you can find a range of cooking oils that you can choose from the tap to fill or re-fill your bottle. Pretty unfamiliar in neighborhood supermarkets.
- Coeur de Nature makes it also possible to buy liquid detergents directly from the pumps. Smart and relevant innovation for Parisian people living in tiny apartments who are always struggling to reduce the volume of empty bulky packagings
- Coeur de Nature is also innovative when it comes to health & beauty products. The store features a serious wide range of items that is very unlikely to be found in such a tiny shop. Coeur de Nature is clearly targeting young active female audience looking for sustainable and chemical-free beauty products. This is a very smart move from the brand in order to build a closer relationship with high contribution customers while differentiating from other organic supermarkets. It should be also noted that some beauty items are sold at “rounded-up prices”. It adds a relevant discount image to the store.
- Coeur de Nature is also a place where drugstore items are largely available. Located at the entrance of the store, this drugstore aisle acts as a magnet for impulse buying.
- As far as food items are concerned, let’s point out some distinctive elements. Starting with breads which are baked several times a day. A gluten-free range of products is also available. A growing concern nowadays. Nonetheless, I truly believe that this bread section would have deserved a better staging.
- Eggs and flours are highly visible in the store. This resonates with the fact that Coeur de Nature is encouraging its customers to bake healthy menus themselves instead of buying often unhealthy processed food.
- A great deal of food items comes from local and independent suppliers. Coeur de Nature has made it easier and more flexible to deal directly with suppliers instead of complying with Auchan complex and more rigid supply chain.
- The store features a lot of thoughtful and positive messages on the walls. It gives the same feeling than in the new Carrefour Bio concept about which I have already posted and article (read it here). Whereas some organic stores are activist in the way they support and encourage people to buy organic items, Coeur de Nature plays it softly and with humour. There is something for every taste…
To wrap up the visit, I would point out that Coeur de Nature has succeeded in delivering a convincing and original organic offer that has been judiciously built to address young urban female customers first. This positioning is likely to help the brand to stand out from its competitor and reap the benefits of an untapped potential.
Fancy “embedded retail experiences” ? My former articles are available here.