Thinking outside the big box

Tesco is one of the best-known retail brands in the UK. So much so, it’s almost become a symbol for supermarket shopping itself.

But the landscape here is changing before our eyes – and big retail brands are having to respond or risk getting left behind. Tesco asked us to uncover the bigger cultural story surrounding these changes. The brand also wanted a specific sense of how retail might look in five years’ time.

First things first, though – and before designing change for the future, Tesco needed to understand itself better in the present. So we carried out some detailed analysis on how its main store formats were communicating to shoppers: where they were going right and where they were out-of-step with what people want today.


We clustered our insights around some big themes, helping Tesco stayed focused on the issues it couldn’t afford to ignore.

These included:

  • Offering a sense of social cohesion
  • Helping consumers seamlessly navigate online and offline retail environments
  • New ways of talking about saving

Our final output was a framework of recommendations on every aspect of store body language, including lay-out, signage and employee appearance. It gave Tesco a strong vision for preparing its store experience to meet tomorrow’s cultural context.