Eataly: using country as a brand

24 July 2017

In our Brand Profile Series, we take a closer look at surging brands across the world. For this ninth article of the series, we would like to present you the delightful Eataly – Bon appétit!

La cucina povera takes over

Just like Martin Scorsese once said, if your mother cooks italian food, why should you ever go to a restaurant? This question must have been the touchstone thought of Oscar Farinetti when he founded Eataly in 2007. His first grocery store opened in the northern Italian city of Turin. Today, there are about 30 stores across the world, majoritarily in Italy and the US, but also in Brasil, Japan and Turkey.

Eataly = Italy

Eataly’s main strategy is using its own country as a brand – it’s even in their name. The brand offers an overview of Italian food and takes advantage of the international excitement for Italian cuisine. By taking on the role of a self-elected ambassador of good food, it uses what we call “terroir marketing”. Seemingly inspired by busy mediterranean markets, it can offer the satisfaction for European customers to see their cultural heritage maintained. As for American clients, who have seen an increasing number of Eatalys open their doors, they can now appreciate an authentic take on this southern European lifestyle. The concept might even inspire other companies to create a similar concept for countries with a strong food culture such as France, Greece or Turkey.

Eataly Downtown NYc 4WTC, VIP opening - Photos by Pablo Enriquez

The bigger the better

Since Eataly’s priority is the real world and not the digital one, it needs adequate space: a perfect example for that is the New York branch, which has over 50,000 square meters (!). The general layout of the stores invites visitors to shop and then sit and have coffee – just like in an actual market. Hams are hanging from the ceiling, pasta is made by the minute right in front of the customer’s eyes. Different food hubs can be visited within the market itself. One could basically spend the day in this food paradise of white tiling and wooden shelves. What Eataly seems to be trying to achieve with this layout is what we call a Third Place: a place for people to meet outside of home and work, an idea made popular on the market by Starbucks.

Let’s get physical

And since it is the analog experience that matters most, Eataly’s online world is a little limited: their Instagram and Youtube are far from abundant, their website slightly less thoughtfully presented than their actual shops. The real Eataly has to happen within its four walls, where the customers can follow several cooking classes everyday, each of them teaching them characteristics of Italian products. And once they leave, those customers can grab a cooking book to read on their way home. But Eataly doesn’t stop at selling food: it also offers home and beauty products, as well as customised aprons, pepper mills or hats. One can also visit different specialised food bars – a ravioli or Nutella bar in NYC and even a cannoli one in Chicago. By micro branding those products, Eataly offers the customer an experience within the experience.

A new eatmosphere

This coming September, the brand will be launching a $106 million Eataly World in Bologna: this massive park will consist of a mixture of gardens, six virtual reality experiences and 40 workshops. Will the brand also invest in smaller shops, as well as in corner shops, that would allow it to implant itself in cities with limited space? Maybe we’ll see the day when we can grab a smoked ham and handmade pasta coming out of a metro station.

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Image credit: © 2013 Galdones Photography/Eataly

Brand Strategy, Hospitality