“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

According to recent IbisWorld reports, health consciousness is expected to increase in 2015-16. Changing consumer preferences, growing heath awareness, and rising discretionary incomes have contributed to industry growth over this period. The industry is forecast to grow at an annualised three per cent over the five years through 2015-16.

As new participants enter this field and competitive pressures rise, how can you firstly ensure profitability but secondly, make your brand message stand out from the rest?

Consumer trends are always influencing retail strategies, and here is another example of a retailer truly maximising on this opportunity.

With Australia’s retail sector rapidly evolving, you no longer have to look overseas to see cases of retail innovation. ‘Green Label’, the new concept store opened by Sumo Salad in Sydney’s CBD earlier this year, takes a holistic approach to communicating the company ethos and highlights a retail adaptation to the growing trends in wellness, healthy eating and fitness.

The eatery’s new Green Label concept store is an innovative example of how a concept store can be used to project your true brand values to the market, through the physical store experience. This concept store also caters to the time poor lifestyles of today’s consumers who are placing greater emphasis on convenience.

Of course, concept stores aren’t always a win-win situation, due to being such large investments, and there’s always the risk the space will lack buzz or suffer technology hitches, which can easily result in negative brand perception. However when successful, they can be a great asset and highly valuable to your brand. According to Rachel Shechtman, founder of New York-based concept store, Story, the key is in the experience, community, differentiation, and mass customisation.

The Sumo Salad Green Label concept store cleverly utilises the store experience to communicate its brand ethos and values of ‘Food with Purpose’; seasonality, localisation and education, while organically tapping into the health and fitness consumer trend.

While Sumo Salad is not the first brand to take this approach, for example Lulelemon and Nike both host yoga and workouts within stores, actively practicing what they preach; Sumo Salad’s concept is very unique in the act of captivating this audience in such a short space of time.

Whilst other stores such as Nike have the luxury of large stores and increased browsing time to captivate and engage, the Sumo Salad store is less store, more fast food kiosk, and yet still manages to engage 100 per cent of your senses, and provide an enjoyable and efficient experience for the time poor customers of today. It is a great example of truly delivering the brand’s core values, not only through the retail format/strategy but the act of selling too.

Made up of several interactive stations hosted by outgoing and passionate team members, customers can grab a basic Sumo Salad or explore the new dishes the concept is renowned for experimenting with. The first station you come to is a Chobani yoghurt bar, hosted by a friendly member of staff telling you about the product and offering you free samples.

You certainly don’t expect this sort of service within a fast food concession. Feeling welcomed you then enter the store space, and spot the expert chefs cooking away behind a glass panel. Transparency is a key theme within this store, both transparency within the supply chain, transparency within the products and transparency in store.

The Sumo cold pressed juicer, like many of the other stations, has the ingredients displayed attractively out in front of you, including honey from Sumo Salad’s own Urban Beehive, harvested in Bondi; again catering to the health conscious consumer.

One highlight of the store and a great example of transparency within the supply chain with this concept is the in-store vertical farm, growing fresh herbs, lettuce and kale which are picked fresh daily to be included in salads whilst also helping reduce the need for additional food miles.

When done well, concept stores have the potential to create strong relationships you’re your customers, engaging them with your brand for more than just the product and securing a connection leading you on the journey to sustainable profitability. Click here to find out more about how to implement successful concept stores.

First published on Inside Retail, 30th September 2015