M&M’s World… London’s Chocolate Hotspot
On the 13th June 2011, at 10.05am I was ready for the fanfare of the ‘Largest M&M’s Store in the World’… but there were no trumpets or celebrity Z-listers to cut the ribbon… alas this was just a soft-opening, with just a handful of tourists and me.
Even so, I ventured into the 35,000 sq foot store, with high hope of at least getting some goodies. Having been to the Time Square (NYC) store, I knew what to expect, floors of M&M’s chocolate and every possible bit of merchandise imaginable. This is a high energy, retail theatre store, think of an ‘extreme’ Hamleys, if you can…
There is a high London-centric theme, which is a real tourist footfall and sales revenue driver. Not only are there landmark and London
iconography (Route-Master Bus, Abbey Road etc), they’ve also created London themed chocolate mixes. I do like this and some part of me thinks, its inspiring timing from Mars (M&M’s parent company), to cash in with the increased Olympics footfall.
What I liked:
- * The posing characters, for those touristy snaps
- * The periscope which uses CCTV like video to spot your friend in another spot in the store
- * The Mix Lab (a M&M’s packet/box customisation area)
What I didn’t like:
- * No flavours apart from milk chocolate and peanut were available (unlike the NYC store)
- * The limited amount of sampling (considering it was the 1st opening hour) was done using a small dispenser, not necessarily hygienic, as all and sundry can touch it before you do
- * Shrilly sales patter is not for me, but then I guess I’m not their target audience
I was so perturbed by the lack of flavours, I called for a Manager…a Marketer came over from HQ (this amused me). So I explained I had been to the NYC store and had been expecting as others had been, a range of all the global flavours displayed, this being the largest store? Their response was… due to EU regulations this wasn’t possible, as each pack would need to be ‘import stamped’. They were considering introducing peanut butter, as soon as a UK batch could be produced…and not likely to run almond or coconut. This really baffled me, had Mars not conducted any consumer insight work? Surely a high proportion of customers want peanut butter flavour (as it’s not the norm, one can buy here already?) – Or is it just me that harangues anyone passing through NYC to pick me up a bag? Anyhow, I would have expected Mars to have factored this into their NPD planning for a production run at Slough (their manufacturing site in the UK) to tie in with store opening.
I will go back, but only once the Peanut Butter M&M’s are in stock and until then, I’ll pop around the corner to Cyber Candy, where they stock them already (with import stickers)!M&M’s World 1 Swiss Court Leicester Square London, WC2H 7DG Telephone number:
0207 025 7171 Opening times: Mon to Sat – 10am to 12am, Sun – 12pm to 6pm 2012 update to post from M&M’s UK (via facebook)….