Shuya Gong
Jan 11, 2016 · 3 min read

Big-box grocery shopping is often an uninspired and unappealing experience. First, there are hundreds of options filled with misleading health claims, hidden ingredients, and confusing labels. Then, there is a disconnect between how groceries are presented to shoppers and how they are consumed in wholesome meals. To address these problems, our team has designed a new brand and grocery experience for the modern-day big box store: GATHER.

We’ve designed a “back to basics” approach to food. We believe food has become too complicated and needs to be demystified. To simplify food, our design focuses on the simple elements that create human meals — the ingredients.

We believe GATHER has the potential to radically transform how individuals think about and approach their food decisions. If this is true, GATHER has the potential to influence how the food industry formulates products by exposing what is inside every opaque package and morsel of food.

GATHER - The Brand

GATHER’s in-house brand sets a new standard for food packaging transparency, while helping shoppers better understand their food purchases. It features simple and wholesome food products with bold and radically straightforward packaging. Whereas modern day food packaging is full of images, brands, and health claims, our packaging is all the consumer needs to know: the ingredients. Essentially we stripped away all the distractions and moved the fine print to front and center. Stop puzzling over unsubstantiated and vague claims, and start understanding what you’re putting into your body: food.

GATHER doesn’t blend in, it blends out.

GATHER - The Experience

GATHER is not just a brand, but also an experience. We believe curated meals, instructions, and grab-and-go bundling will allow big box stores to become a true “one-stop” shop. We have created meal boxes that customers can pick up to make a quick, healthy meal at home. No planning required. Leave your grocery list at home, and start thinking about your food as a beautiful medley of ingredients.

GATHER meals makes shopping easy and cooking achievable

The Point

GATHER elevates honest ingredients to enable greater understanding, while curating and presenting meals to inspire and simplify the shopping experience. It is designed to be easily implemented. Theoretically it could be deployed by a big-box retailer in a matter of days. By being bold and transparent, GATHER is a form of self-disruption that has the potential to change the competitive stack. Eventually consumers will expect the same transparency with other products and those brands will be forced to follow suit.

As an industry, food is driven by crowd influence, products and packaging are put on and pulled off the shelves through a voting process where the ballots live in your wallet. We’re trying to push the hand of the food producers and demand radical transparency.

Understanding

Understanding food begins with knowing what is inside the food we purchase.

But greater understanding alone is only half the battle. Every solution this week provided some sort of context to support more informed decision making. From an improved big-box grocery to mood-based meal suggestions to supporting healthy eating habits children, there was a central focus around contextualizing food into something else in our lives, whether emotionally, physiologically, or developmentally. We took an approach that interrupted the consumer’s normal relationship with food while at the grocery store, changing the way that they interact with branding and packaging, breaking down the status quo and unwrapping the mystery of our healthy labeling.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by a Food + Future coLAB Fellow to share their concepts and experiences from the first week of our January 2016 program, focused on the theme of Understanding. For more information, please visit foodfuturecolab.com/understanding.

Food + Future

Food + Future was a collaboration between Target, IDEO, and the MIT Media Lab that explored the future of food transparency and trust. It closed its doors in June 2017, but its thinking lives on here.

Shuya Gong

Written by

Designer @ IDEO CoLab. Harvard 2017. Percussionist, mechanical engineering, design. @ohmygong

Food + Future

Food + Future was a collaboration between Target, IDEO, and the MIT Media Lab that explored the future of food transparency and trust. It closed its doors in June 2017, but its thinking lives on here.

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