Stealth Retail

How brands are using the art of stealth to discover, learn & evolve

By Barnaby Maclaine
Creative at VBAT


Stealth n.
The act of moving, proceeding, or acting in a covert way.”

This is not usually a term or behaviour that you would associate with a high-street brand. With the pressures of staying relevant to your audience in a fast moving world, some brands are using a stealth-like strategy to stay ahead of their competition.

Nike Lab

Fashion brands are well known for their covert and exclusive label ranges from Nike Lab To R. Newbold by Paul Smith but it’s rare to see brands trial new products or even formats without their own name boldly hanging over the door.

15th Ave Coffee & Tea by Starbucks

Back in 2009 Starbucks successfully trialled a number of stealthily named coffee & tea houses in the Seattle area. Using the location of the store as its name. 15th Ave Coffee & Tea.

These stores were focused on bringing the feeling of localization with geographically unique elements within them. The success and learning of these stores are now seen across nearly all new Starbucks.

The Corner by McDonald’s

Recently we have seen other brands following suit. McDonald’s in Sydney, Australia have recently launched a stealth store under the name of ‘The Corner’ focusing on the booming fresh food and quality coffee culture. This is a globally growing segment where Millennials are more conscious about healthy eating and are willing to pay a premium for quality.

Not only are stealth stores a good way for brands to test out new ideas and strategic directions, but they can also prove to be a great way to introduce a new audience to your brand creating new loyalty and cleaver PR.


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written by Barnaby Maclaine
Creative at VBAT

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