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With sales of spices and seasonings on a steady upswing, the 123-year-old McCormick & Company has opened its first-ever retail location. More than a traditional retail outlet, the 3,818-sq.-ft. McCormick World of Flavors is a destination that aims to build brand excitement and demonstrate the company’s leadership in flavor. It showcases McCormick’s complete family of products and brands, which run the gamut from Old Bay to Thai Kitchen.
“Through product diversifications and acquisitions, McCormick has become a portfolio company and moved beyond common spices to position itself as a leader in flavor, “ said Ken Nisch, chairman, project principal, JGA, Southfield, Mich. “The store is designed to expand consumers’ perception of McCormick and to expand the perception of McCormick’s portfolio of products with the food trade, food bloggers and the like.”
In a nod to the company’s roots, McCormick World of Flavors is located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The company was founded in Baltimore in 1889 and moved to Sparks, Md., in 1989.
“McCormick also plans to use the space to promote the development activity that goes on back at their headquarters,” Nisch added.
The store is a rich blend of interactive and sensory experiences. Touch-screen educational displays, an open kitchen for cooking demonstrations and product sampling bring the brands — and the idea of flavor — to life. It is organized by a series of zones, with several focusing on branding in key product categories and others focusing on activity areas (such as grilling, cooking and baking).
Five interactive stations (featuring HP touch displays) are located throughout the space. They include the scent-based “Guess that Spice” game that tests the customer’s sense of smell, and “Flavors in the Making,” a series of videos on how spices and herbs go from nature to the table. At the “FlavorPrint” station, visitors can discover their own personalized flavor profile. There is also a 28-ft. wall dedicated to McCormick’s rich past, and the history of spices and flavors.
“The interactive stations are pinballed around the space to draw people through,” Nisch said.
The level of customer participation with the displays has been high.
“Part of the reason is that there is a lot of interest in this type of information,” Nisch said. “Also, some of the interactive displays, such as the scent game, offer rewards, such as coupons that can be used in the store.”
Nisch added that in a lot of instances, the technology featured in stores is being used just to distract, or add bells and whistles.
“It’s window dressing,” he said. “But the focus here is on meaningful, valuable content. There are lots of opportunities to interact with the brand, from learning about where spices are grown and how they are made to discovering new recipes. Visitors learn how flavor brings food to life, and they leave with a broader definition of McCormick as a flavor company.”
Culinary-inspired finishes — stainless steel, aluminum, marble — give the loft-like space a contemporary look. Polished concrete floors and open ceilings allow the “bones” of the building to serve as a background element.
Decor accents, including a ceiling element made of oversized red McCormick caps and a display wall featuring oversized cut-outs of the brand’s iconic vanilla bottle, help call out key areas. The grilling or barbecue area features the dream backyard setup. Natural light around the area provides an outdoor feel.