“Our homes have become our havens over the past year, so we’re thrilled to be joining forces with a new and emerging brand, Marketlane, to offer our customers the opportunity to shop amazing value, on-trend homewares which they’d normally find in a department or homewares store,” Coles general manager for non-food Jonathan Torr said in a statement.
“The range is completely coordinated so, as part of their everyday grocery shop, customers can decorate their homes with pieces they know will work beautifully together.”
Affordability is a key aspect, with items priced between $6.99 – $49.99, making it more likely to appeal to grocery shoppers in a supermarket environment.
Coles’ basic homewares offer features more than 200 small items, predominantly for the kitchen, from cutlery and tea towel sets to water filters and blenders.
Gary Mortimer, a professor of marketing at Queensland University of Technology, said this curated range is about focusing on convenience and value – “limited volumes and low prices”. Customers can pick up ingredients for dinner in one aisle and roasting trays or pans in the next.
Best Buys vs Special Buys
However, the latest collection takes things up a notch and puts the supermarket in direct competition with discount supermarket Aldi, whose middle aisle is a constant rotation of non-food items – think home, gardening, even ski gear – that generate much buzz amongst its loyal consumer base.
These Special Buys have been a staple of the Aldi shopping experience since the retailer set up shop in Australia 20 years ago.
At Coles, the Best Buys range also seeks to serve up unique and innovative products that can be picked up during the grocery shop.
“The fortnightly events generate a sense of excitement and anticipation as the changing offers provide variety and choice. From homewares to electricals the Best Buys range has created Coles into a one stop shopping destination,” a Coles spokesperson told Inside Retail.
Mortimer said supermarkets are constantly trying to adapt their market offer to stand out in this competitive landscape, and that Aldi’s approach is a clever one.
“Emulating Aldi’s drawcard of bi-weekly “special buys” – heavily discounted items not normally sold in supermarkets – is a viable strategy,” Mortimer told Inside Retail. “Millions of shoppers pass through the doors of supermarkets every day, as such, these brands are seeking to differentiate their basic grocery offer with seasonal, on-trend items.”
A nod to times of old
It’s not the first time Coles has dipped its toes into homewares category more broadly. In 2019, the supermarket added 101 private label home products to its stores for a limited time.
The Your Home Collection featured items such as cushions, throw rugs, lamps, vases and picture frames and was focused on “quality and value” with the majority of the range priced at $10 or less, and nothing more than $30.
Coles chief executive for commercial and express, Greg Davis, said at the time that the homewares range paid tribute to the company’s origins as ‘Coles GJ and Co: Fancy Goods and Drapers’, a single store in Melbourne’s inner-city Collingwood.
Mortimer believes themed ranges that centre around cooking, winter clothing, camping, back to school, gardening, will always generate interest among consumers.
“These attract the interest of shoppers, add extra ‘unplanned purchase’ revenue and differentiate a supermarket from their competitor,” he said.
For Coles, a successful Best Buys range is about tapping into “on trend designs and market competitive prices”.
“Customers love seeing new products in store and are drawn to picking up an affordable piece that they can see working in their home or as the perfect gift,” Coles said.
It’s unlikely that this will be the only Coles x Marketlane collaboration. The homewares brand made its first appearance on Instagram only two weeks ago spruiking the Coles launch and its feed has continued to showcase the collection.
A Coles spokesperson said Marketlane is not an own brand private label, but it is “exclusive to Coles” and “leaves potential for future collaborations”.
However, Mortimer is not convinced that Coles is moving towards an “all-in-one” shopping experience with items like these a permanent fixture in the range.
“To do so, they would need to range such items all year long and that won’t be viable. No-one is buying spring gardening in winter or school lunch boxes, mid-term.”