The news that Tesco had acquired Giraffe this week was greeted with a universal ‘oh no, what a shame’ in our house. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know lots of other warm and cuddly brands have gone the same way – Innocent and Body Shop for example. But the two brands seem so completely incompatible that the acquisition immediately made me feel like my days of lingering over an all-day breakfast in Giraffe were over.
Our loyalty to brands is such a peculiar phenomenon. Personally I always claim that I have none and feel a slight jealousy for those who can feel passionate about things I just buy if they’re on BOGOF. While I’ll remain loyal to a brand in reward for service, taste etc– Ocado and Ryvita Thins (cheddar and black pepper only) I never overtly contemplate my emotional attachments to other brands that I interact with.
But who am I kidding? It must all be lurking in my subconscious, as my reaction to the Giraffe acquisition has shown. For better or worse I ate in Giraffe because it was independent, great for families and, for a chain felt a bit non-chain like. And I would consciously choose it over its competitors.
A friend once said to me she couldn’t understand why anyone without kids would ever go to Giraffe. And it’s true, it’s usually impossible to find a table that’s not taken up with crayons, balloons and those plastic giraffes which always lose a leg within seconds of reaching a child’s grasp. To me, Giraffe is a Sunday afternoon treat for the kids with parents hoping to read possibly 2.5 pages of a newspaper.
Which is why this deal is so incomprehensible to me. Going shopping accompanied by a child should only be done as an ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT. Ever. If one or more of your family are not crying by the end of the supermarket trip do you really want to prolong the agony? Surely you’re only thinking about getting the hell off the car park as quickly as possible.
Commercially of course it’s obvious why the move was a sensible risk for Tesco. Out of town superstores are dull, soulless places which should be avoided at all costs. In an attempt to make them more of a destination, Giraffe might bring an element of quality way above the standard supermarket café fodder. It also potentially opens Giraffe up to a much wider audience given it has only really reached major cities to date.
But I’m not thinking with my commercial head on so the fact that I might now Google my nearest Giraffe and find it’s in the Tesco superstore makes me a bit sad. To think, before this week I wasn’t even aware I had all these subconscious brand loyalties and now a little piece of them has gone. Still, better to have loved and lost and all that…
Nikki is a director and co-founder of Fourth Day