Tesco time warp

Rosie Baker is Marketing Week’s specialist on sustainability and retail.


There’s been a lot of brands looking to ride the wave of nostalgia through advertising in the past year or so, but this weekend Tesco is opening a retro store as part of the Goodwood Revival classic car festival which means customers will be immersed in the store’s history.

We spend so much time looking forward at what a global corporation like Tesco will do next, and the growth strategy, it’s nice to get the chance to look back at where that company has come from.

The team has trawled through an archive of photo’s from its stores in the 60s and created a replica of a Tesco store from 1966. It will be fully kitted out with manual tills and 60s décor and stocked with a range of mock and saleable products from the bygone era.

There’ll be all kinds of things like Colman’s mustard, Pears soap and Carnation evaporated milk, washing powder and confectionery in vintage packaging and some lunchtime snacks for your vintage picnic. Think Marathon bars, Opal Fruits and Green Shield Stamps.

Tesco design manager Greg Bullen told me that the activity  is a great opportunity for Tesco to “celebrate its retail heritage” and the way we used to shop in years gone by.

Sometimes we forget that a gargantuan business like Tesco, which now employs nearly 500,000 staff in 5,380 stores in 14 markets worldwide, came from much more humble beginnings on Britain’s high streets.

Bullen added: “It gives us a chance to show off our friendly attitude towards our business and it’s one of the few times we can have a bit of fun with the brand. It also shows how our core values have stayed the same. We’ve always been focussed on the British family and value.”

As a strategic element of Tesco’s global masterplan, the retro store is a drop in the ocean, but as a piece of PR, Tesco’s retro store will score points with vintage revellers at Goodwood and give it a healthy dose of personality, which it can very often lack.

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