Purple patch: Ocado ditches green to ‘stand out’ in rebrand

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Ocado has given its eponymous food range a facelift, with 100 new products and less packaging, as part of a major rebrand that is ditching its trademark green for purple to stand out in an intensifying online grocery war.

The retailer said a fifth of the 530 products in Ocado’s own-label range had changed ahead of Wednesday’s launch, highlighting new upmarket additions such as Chimichurri British flat-iron steak.

Ocado has also used the shake-up to improve its green credentials, by shedding plastic packaging where possible. The changes, such as eliminating 640,000 plastic nets, will remove 27 tonnes based on 2020 sales levels. Last month, the grocer also created an ethical “B Corporation” aisle on its website to help shoppers make greener choices.

Laura Harricks, the chief customer officer at the Ocado Retail division, which is co-owned by Marks & Spencer, said it had been “able to improve the sustainability-credentials of its own-range packaging whilst maintaining high quality and great prices”. “We are proud of the steps forward we’ve made here,” she added.

At the start of this year, Ocado, which now delivers M&S groceries, flagged plans to phase out its famous green livery, a process that has already begun on its delivery vans.

It is switching to purple – a choice inspired by grapes – to make the brand more distinctive in a grocery retail landscape awash with green. Rivals, including its former business partner Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda all use the colour.

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Green is “widely used in grocery branding in the UK and, well, frankly, we hate to be mistaken for anyone else”, Ocado said of the rationale for the rebrand.

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The products in the new-look Ocado range are brightly coloured and covered in bold shapes that look better on smaller screens as well as on the shelf at home. The grocer’s original look was developed for a world when customers shopped on desktop computers rather than on their tablet or mobile.

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The rebrand also comes with its own custom font, “Ocado Full Fig”, and a fresh take on its swirl logo. Together they signal a fresh start with new business partner M&S; prior to last year’s switch Ocado had worked with Waitrose since it was founded in 2000. Ocado sells 49,000 products, including 5,000 from M&S.

The news comes ahead of Thursday’s first quarter trading update from Ocado Retail.

Retail sales at Ocado jumped 35% to £2.2bn in the year to the end of November but customer numbers actually fell back from 795,000 to 680,000 as its automated warehouses were soon running at full pelt, forcing customers to seek a delivery slot elsewhere.