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The Name: Tiger

The Place: 250+ stores across 19 countries, 24 of which are in the UK. And before you ask there is no online trading and I will thank you to remember that

The Story: Tiger, Tiger burning (very) bright – what a success story this Danish chain begun in Copenhagen actually is. Whatever sort of shop you want to call it.

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Tiger roams in Wood Green

Well, what do you call it? Take your pick. A gift place, a price-point retailer, a variety store, a shop full of very bright stuff.

Let’s not generalise, I’m sure they vary the look around the world: No. The first notable thing about Tiger is that there are few concessions made for location. Take Japan for example, take the shop from Denmark and just plonk it into the middle of Osaka. So says boss Lennart Lajboschitz. Change nothing.

Excuse me but doesn’t that imply that people all round the world buy the same thing? Yup. The second notable thing is that Lajboschitz maintains what they sell in big cities is the same all around the world.

Outrageous: Urban consumers are identical throughout the world.

Heresy: It is in fact in the smaller cities wherein lie the differences.

I can’t listen to anymore: Still a man whose like for like sales are up 7% in the first half of 2013 when everyone else is going backwards needs to be listened to.

Glad it’s going well for him. What’s the secret? Firstly, scandi-mania.

Oh yes. The old Scandi-mania: You’ve never heard of it have you? We want to eat at Noma, we want Wallender’s ringtone, detective woman’s jumper. And additionally nothing is over £30.

Aha, now we come to the salient part: It’s just cheap. But Tiger is all about challenging the notion that low price equals a shabby shopping experience. According to Mr L, consumers in Tiger feel like millionaires. All the prices are in whole pounds and the mantra “cheap and cheerful can be achieved” is deeply ingrained. In Tiger the consumer struts like a King. Or make that Queen.

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Tiger: taking the male out of batteries

So, that’s the way it rolls: Yes, the customer base is female which, I’m sure you will agree, is the cause of the feminization of the battery.

Umm. Bang on, of course. But just explain the concept to the readers will you: Batteries obviously are the epitome of boringness along with other terribly tedious things like tacks. Buying batteries is man’s work unless they become fun. And lo, Tiger produced colourful, dayglo batteries in rainbow colours and the ladies snap them up. It’s all part of the unique way that Tiger designs products.

Unique – my favourite retail word. Go for it: One and a half thousand products are designed for Tiger every year. They add ten a week. There are eight members of the buying team and four designers and this tiny group of people stock a global business. How can this be, you ask.

How can this be? Stand by. Usually a designer comes up with a design and that design might be applied to, say, a mug and that’s where it ends. One new mug design.

I’m on tenterhooks here: At Tiger that one original design could be rolled across as many as 50 products. It could be on a mug, a food container, a tea-light holder, a photo frame and a sellotape dispenser. Tiger do not sell products that you cannot do this with. End of story.

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Expert at rolling out designs

Genius: The process is very quick. Lajboschitz says the company works to a Chinese method called ‘just get it in the shop, we’ll adjust it later’. No endless iteration by designers.

Bish Bash Bosh: Sweetie, it works. And it also leads the consumer round an Ikea-style journey round the stores.

Got it. Like with the arrows on the floor: No, not like the arrows on the floor. Through product design and placing. It’s not high fashion but simply design-led and whether you are a schoolgirl in Osaka or a housewife in Wood Green it brings in the punters.

I’ve just realised something strange about the geographical spread of Tiger in the UK: I can explain. Since its first shop in Basingstoke all subsequent locations are in the South East but that is not because Tiger management think the women of Leeds are not desperate for yellow batteries but just because there’s so much low-hanging fruit down here. They have only just opened their first central London outlet on the Tottenham Court Road, initially high rates put them off. All the other shops are in shopping centres because Tiger stores require a very high footfall. Individual items are not expensive and a lot of purchases are impulse and you need to fill a lot of shopping baskets on those grounds.

Who’s in the arena with Tiger? Well, Ikea of course but Woolworths was a major competitor, according to UK Tiger managing director Philip Bier, so the day that Woolies went down was a good one in Copenhagen.

I bet they cracked open a few pickled herrings that evening: Indeed. Another Tiger viewpoint is that everything in the shop must be unique and relevant. As Lajboschitz points out if it isn’t unique then they are only competing on price – not good for Tiger because they want high profit margins. That uniqueness might cut down on the direct competition too.

ǾK. Yǿu’ve convinced me. I’m a Scandi-fan nǿw and whǿ needs ǿnline shǿpping anyway. I like to squeeze my batteries befǿre I buy them: You’re thinking of plums. And can you stop doing that thing with the letter ‘o’. It’s really irritating.

Sǿrry.

 

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