Gelson's Markets

Marketing case study

Known for fresh produce, ready-to-eat meals and an all-around great shopping experience, Gelson’s Markets is an upscale community grocery store spread throughout Southern California. Gelson’s is a legacy brand with a 70-year reign, so when their team engaged us to launch their newest location in West LA, we were thrilled. They craved a fresh concept to excite the neighborhood and bring in a crowd for their soft launch.

The challenge

The challenge

Because this location gives totally tubular retro vibes, the Gelson’s team requested we curate an experience that would transport Gen Xers back to childhood. Since the West LA area is heavily populated by Millennials, we also had to create a vibe that spoke to neighbors who didn’t have personal experience with the theme but still lived for the aesthetic.

Furthermore, we had to find ways to bring in event-goers from other nearby grocers, the Metro station and other local businesses. Although the new West Edge complex where Gelson’s is located is gorgeous, it was brand new and had little foot traffic—yet. We had to set the big-time benchmark and draw in the center’s first-ever crowds. 

The real challenge in the process, though, was way out of anyone’s control. Due to supply chain issues, we had to deal with less-than-rad circumstances that delayed the store’s grand opening.

The services

The results

The results

Gel-sun and Gel-moon

Our team ideated a wistful event concept that spanned from sunup to sundown. Internally, we called the activations Gel-sun and Gel-moon. (Get it?) We played with throwbacks by sharing historical facts about Gelson’s and West LA via an on-site scavenger hunt. A visual nod to nostalgic games, we also brought in an artist to add guiding chalk art throughout the location leading to the store. To engage residents and businesses, we partnered with brand ambassadors who canvassed the ‘hood on foot. It wouldn’t be an event without giveaways, so we also made sure that all the collateral was epically ‘80s.

Food, Flavors and Flashbacks

In spite of logistical delays, we hosted a bodacious event that brought the community together to revel in nostalgia and look forward towards the future. (We definitely had to take several chill pills along the way!) We planned the event completely months ahead of actual execution so that when the time came for Gelson’s to open their doors, we were more than ready. What, you thought we’d let logistical issues hold us back? As if! Five months after the anticipated opening date, the store held its soft launch on Halloween weekend. Even though we had to pivot their Food, Flavors and Flashbacks event slightly by tying in some wicked thrillers and candy stations, the neighborhood showed up and showed out for this epic experience.

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