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Eataly experience is a show with substance, exec says

At the Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas, Ennio Perrone explains how the store brings its brand philosophy to life

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“The guy making the pasta, it’s not a Disney show,” said Ennio Perrone, vice-president of business strategy and marketing for Eataly North America when discussing the in-store experience the Italian food emporium has become known for.

“It’s being produced to go into the restaurant,” he said during a presentation on experiential store design at Groceryshop in Vegas last week. “Everything is there and real. There’s always something being made for you and that’s part of the production.”

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It’s also part of the brand’s DNA and “eat,” “shop,” “learn” philosophy. The in-store experience is a key component of Eataly’s foundation and a huge part of its success. Every day there are tasting events, whether it’s pasta or wine or cheese, said Perrone.

“We’re a crazy store of events … In this tone of voice, we’re informal but we’re assertive, we’re modest but proud, honest but clever,” he said. “Eataly is approachable. Come do whatever you want.”

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Launched in 2002 in Turin, Italy, Eataly has more than 40 stores in locations such as Japan, Dubai, New York, Boston, Moscow and Seoul, and a Toronto store is expected to open in the city’s high-end Yorkville neighbourhood some time next year.

Eataly doesn’t follow a template when designing its stores. Instead, each location is designed based on feedback from locals and a concept is built out from there. “Every store is born different,” said Perrone. “The design is the consequence of the experience, customer journey and brand values.”

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For instance, the L.A. store includes a rooftop restaurant with a wood-burning grill and the Boston location has a heavy focus on seafood. But, in all locations the staff is “empowered to make sure they give the right experience to the right customers at their location,” he said.

As important as design is, the experience is about more than just a beautiful space or putting product on a shelf, said Perrone. “It’s about making sure people have a great time, informal, easy and you can do anything you want inside the store.”

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