Fresh Food Market is a gourmet food store brand in Cairo, owned by Mansour Group,  bringing a refined fresh food experience into the heart of the Middle East. The store design, in-store communications and visual merchandising concepts were all developed by Switzerland’s Interstore design. Egypt’s The Brand Bees altered the Arabic version of the logo and fledged the internal branding and packaging. After the successful debut of the first store in New Cairo, the brand has decided to open a door in Zayed, one of the new suburbs of Cairo. Our Berries, US’ Andres Nicholls of Prophet and Egypt’s Taimour Othman of The Brand Bees, have reviewed the brand.

Andres Nicholls 

Not too long ago for all of us, going to the grocery store was a major chore. Something we all avoided as much as we could. Today, while running out of orange juice is still not great, the way we buy it and where we buy it has changed dramatically.

In the hyper-convenient world in which we live today, you can order anything you want online, and grocery stores have not been immune to this dramatic transformation. They have been moving from simply being a place that stocks food you need to buy, to the place you want to go because they offer you an unique shopping experience.

The Fresh Food Market is an interesting example of this. This newly designed store illustrates how to create an experience for people while they shop for groceries.

Credits: Oktalite

I must admit that I’m a bit puzzled by their new identity system. In a place where fresh queues are abundant, the design of their identity lacks any of them, and instead they chose to use a dot matrix system that resembles a “digital” board. This graphic treatment has been used quite successfully at other places, like Toronto Pearson airport, where the dot matrix system was used to create a gorgeous and simple visual system.

But for the Fresh Food Market, this approach feels a bit random and disconnected with the experience people will have inside the store.

The use of black and white on the store fascia helps a bit because it adds some visual connection with the fixture system used inside the store, while still communicating a premium offering.

Credits: Oktalite

The contrast of materials and colors, from the light palette used for flooring and fixtures to the black ceiling treatment, add lots of food theater and allows FFM to create focal points that enable a more exciting shopping experience.

The use of wood fixtures and the location of fresh food at the front of the stores gives FFM the food credentials people are looking for in a new grocery experience. The store layout provides great, clear sightlines across the store, and customers can easily identify where they want to go once they enter.

The merchandising approach seems to offer a nice combination of convenience and inspiration. There are lots of food theater moments across the store. Moments that are critical in today’s grocery shopping.

Overall, FFM has created an interesting retail environment, and an experience that feels modern and quite cosmopolitan. At the end, when we go to the grocery store we not only go to buy what we need, but also to get inspired, learn and enjoy food in a way that is more attuned in how we live these days.

FFM seems to have done a good job at creating that type of experience in Cairo.

Taimour Othman

Since I’ve personally worked on this project, people might think I’ll be biased toward brands I helped build – well I think I got a surprise for you. Fresh Food Market was developed by the masters of retail identities “Interstore Design”; considered one of the top three retail designers in the world. Moving on from designing the Carrefour & Globus brands to a brand like FFM was a nice challenge that I can say they accepted and won. But winning is relative – if we take page from soccer, you can win a match in which you conceded 2 goals to 3 or 1 goal to 5, and that can make all the difference.  As both a soccer fan and a brand designer, I can affirm that FFM is the former.
Credits: Oktalite
Let’s start by talking about the goals they scored. The name is what mainly serves the concept, even more so by hammering on fresh in the beginning followed by food emphasizing that it can be cooked or not.  That in itself serves both sides of the market: the goods they sell and the in-house eateries they have. Now we can discuss the user journey which is itself impeccable.  From the entry point of any store you have to go through a walkway built wide enough to make you feel that the store is big while allowing space for islands in the middle that are shorter in size, making them visible without strain. The third and winning goal is achieved from the color of the interior which shuns the usual white because it gets dirty easily, and opted instead for grey, a neutral color which gives the product the chance to impact the consumer without any external distraction.  The logo being black and white is just pure genius  because it also helps deliver the message of class and sophistication, not usually associated with a grocery store.
Credits: The Brand Bees
Now we talk about the conceded goals.  First I’ll talk about the logotype, which despite its sophistication in the eyes of the general public, is hampered by lightbulbs exactly like the ones used in makeup mirrors.  In short, its attitude is far from fresh and to me, and the appeal of bring different doesn’t compensate for the negative impact to the message. The second goal to me is the use of arabesque in the visual language, a complete disaster because the pattern is commonly used by most of its competitors during the holy month of Ramadan – negating the intended uniqueness and sophistication. That’s why a deeper study of the local trends is essential to avoid this mistake.  Nevertheless, some may excuse this oversight, because in the end FFM did succeed – winning three to two.
Credits: Fresh Food Market
Concluding, FFM is a great brand that in my opinion won the challenge despite conceding a couple of goals, and that is what matters. Bravo Interstore Design, Bravo The Brand Bees (of course I have to brag a little) and surely bravo Mansour Group, for delivering a fresh (pun intended) new concept to the Egyptian consumer.