Thursday, March 27, 2008

Small-Format Grocery Retailing Feature: A Visual Look at Japan's Natural Lawson Hybrid Convenience Store, Small-Format Grocery Store Chain

Someone once told us something to the affect that a picture is worth a thousand words. In fact, sometimes a picture (or two or three) can actually be worth 3,000 words. Even better, we happen to think words and pictures go best together to illustrate a story, such as ours below or linked here about Japan's Natural Lawson upscale small-format convenience store chain.

A Natural Lawson upscale convenience mart (or combini in Japanese) located on the ground floor of a residential development in urban Tokyo.

The Natural Lawson store above, which also is in Tokyo, is slightly smaller than the first store pictured at top. Although most of the chain's upscale convenience stores have the same features generally speaking, each of the stores' design elements are customized based on the neighborhood they're located in.

Natural Lawson's primary target market is women. Many of the chain's upscale, natural products-oriented hybrid convenience stores-small-format grocery markets have female managers, which is far from traditional in Japan's convenience store industry. Picture above is a Natural Lawson store manager named Shodo Yuka in her store.

Natural Lawson stores sell numerous international brands of specialty and natural food and beverage items like the Starbucks Espresso and other coffee drinks pictured on the top shelf in the refrigerated case above.

Japan's upscale Natural Lawson convenience stores even have specialty and natural pet products' sections for man's best friends; or in this case, since Natural Lawson's primary target market is women, woman's best friends.

Above is a refrigerated case natural beverage set from a Natural Lawson convenience market in Japan. On the left are Starbucks brand premium, pre-made coffee drinks, in their cups and ready to heat-up and drink, or drink cold. On the right (top) are a selection of natural and organic soy milks in cartons. On the bottom shelf at right are various flavors of Natural Lawson's own store brand, ready-to-drink fruit smoothie beverage.

Read our feature piece, "Small-Format Grocery Retailing Feature: Stretching the Boundaries of Convenience Store Retailing; Some say Japan's Natural Lawson is Awesome," below or click here.

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