Designing Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops for Europe
How do you take a globally loved ice cream brand, and give it an authentically local flavour for its ultimate retail experience in the European market? This was the mission for I-AM, working with the teams in the UK and the US from one of Unilever’s most famous brands.
To adapt the legendary Ben & Jerry’s brand for European flagship stores, we toured cities from Amsterdam to Barcelona, and true to our People Inspired Experiences mantra, spent time analysing the core target customer groups, from Brand Loyalists & Aspiring Activists to Fun Seekers & Tourists. The resulting design for the pilot Scoop Shop in London’s Wardour Street, is rooted in the original global brand, but this is creatively translated through two new lenses: firstly the European consumer sensibility, then more locally the London ‘vibe’.
Ben & Jerry’s personality reflects their product flavours; quirky, irreverent and unique. The brand has always been an activist for positive social change since humble beginnings in Vermont, serving up its progressive values with every scoop. We have manifested this personality & purpose within the store environment, while integrating local cues.
The journey began in 1978, with two ice cream fanatics, Ben and Jerry, opening their first scoop shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. As people began to get a taste for their product news spread fast, so the duo introduced their signature tubs to make creations more easily transportable. From then onwards, the business only grew, and with it so did its personality.
Supporting and championing social & community issues is at the heart of the brand’s ethos, creating ‘progress in society using fun & ice cream as the vehicles to inspire involvement.’ In 1985 The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was established (http://www.benjerry.co.uk/about-us) becoming a key activist for causes from the Fairtrade of their ingredients to Marriage Equality. The European Flagship Scoop Shops will become venues for events and gatherings related to these programmes and showcasing partnerships with like-minded companies as well as for the simple pleasure of sharing the world’s most loved ice cream.
Creating a destination
As a multi-cultural city, each area of London is defined by its own unique personality. After consideration of the hipster hangouts of Shoreditch and the refinement of Marylebone, Soho was chosen, with its vibrant fusion of cultures, eccentricity and popularity among both tourists and locals.
The aim is to develop the London Scoop Shop into the ultimate immersive Ben & Jerry’s experience, across product, people and multi-sensory space. To achieve this, I-AM defined the principles for the European Flagship Customer Journey. Clear vistas through the shopfront with its iconic Ben & Jerry’s signage & stencilled product art, allow the eye to be drawn from a distance to the custom made ‘neon cloud’ lighting installation suspended across the entire ceiling. Derived from the iconic artwork on every Ben & Jerry’s pint, these are unique to London, an example of our Soho-inspired interpretation of the brand.
The aroma of fresh-baked waffle cones from the strategically positioned hot station permeates the entrance, drawing in passers-by. Engaging menu boards celebrate the Ben & Jerry’s product USP; their staggering range of flavours and natural ingredients. With a variety of toppings, sauces and flavours to choose from, customers can enjoy creations unique to the flagship experience, thanks to new product development I-AM collaborated on with the B&J’s team and specialist menu consultants F.I.S. From the social angle, the Scoop Shop is also a showcase for Luminary Bakery products (married with the ice cream) and Union Coffee, both brands with social purpose as their raison d’etre.
For those in need of a quick fix, the ice cream bar overlooking bustling Wardour Street, equipped with charging sockets is ideal. Or, for an experience a little more intimate, the tables below the Ben & Jerry’s street art wall offer seating tailored for two.
Store Concept Design
To guarantee a sense of place in-store, the design is a marriage of the Ben & Jerry’s core brand along with Soho’s local character. This ensures a depth of appeal to truly local audiences, as well as global Ben & Jerry’s fans.
The Soho location was a guiding factor for the Scoop Shop’s look and feel. An industrial aesthetic is established through the black façade, with its large grid windows and pendant lights above the window bar. Nods towards Soho’s urban art scene include the ‘Peace, Love, Ice Cream’ strapline translated into three playful neon symbols on the feature wall. The cloud light installation floats above the servery, creating a focal point to the space.
Reclaimed or sustainably sourced wooden planks feature across the walls, flooring and counters, creating a warm and contemporary feel whilst also referencing the brand’s rustic origins and belief system. The urban language of the steel & timber seating structures seamlessly blend into this environment.
So far the Soho Scoop Shop has attracted a multitude of fans from global tourists to local workers, celebrating the brand and spreading Peace, Love and Ice Cream – a metaphor for the strategic aim of the project. The next European city awaits, with the latest one having opened in Rotterdam.