British retailer Tesco has announced the test launch of its private brand Tesco Finest line of premium “Restaurant Collection” meal boxes. The collection with packaging designed by branding agency Coley Porter Bell is available in three options retailing at £20 for the chicken or confit duck boxes and £25 for the ox cheek. All boxes include ingredients for the main course for two, alongside a snack and an instruction card to ensure a restaurant-quality experience at home.

Key design choices include:

  • The charcoal color of the box was chosen to denote an upmarket restaurant rather than the natural substrates used to signify a ‘farm fresh’ approach semiotically used by others in the subscription box space.
  • The belly band around the box is split between aspirational and inspirational photography and clearly shows the consumer what they will be able to create with the contents of the box.
  • The back of pack photography shows the ‘plating ’ and allows the customer to see each individual product within the box without opening it up.
  • The product name background has a brushed steel effect to allude to the ‘restaurant quality’, visually connecting the brushed steel work surfaces in the restaurant kitchen with the box.
  • The animal illustrations inject a historic  Tesco Finest brand language and add credibility in terms of restaurant menu styling.
  • When the belly band is removed and the box opened, customers are presented with a layer of tissue paper before unpacking the food. This is sealed with a ‘Restaurant Collection’ sticker, which acts as a seal of approval.
  • The recipe card is styled around recipe pages from cookbooks and uses photography as a device to inspire the consumer to achieve the ‘finest’ result, especially when imitating the serving suggestions.

Sam Stone, Creative Director, Coley Porter Bell said: “At a time when we’re all looking to make meals at home a little more exciting, we’ve worked with our partner Tesco to turn change into opportunity with premium meal kits that offer customers restaurant-quality meals without the restaurant prices. These boxes help bring an ‘occasion’ to life in your home, so it’s important each element of the design helps with that experience. After the year we’ve all had, we’re thrilled to help Tesco offer customers a little delight on the doorstep through their latest immersive branding experience.”

Ben Sherburn, Head of Brand: Tesco Finest

Pre-Covid, the meal kits market was valued at an estimated £350-400 million per year. Post-lockdown, it’s now estimated to be worth £700 million. The experiential offering from Tesco provides an alternative to eating out, both while restaurants are closed and when lockdown restrictions ease as many customers look for cheaper alternatives to celebrate special occasions.

Ben Sherburn, Head of Brand: Tesco Finest said: “With restaurants still closed and many celebrating their second birthday or anniversary in lockdown, we were keen to capitalise on the moment and offer our customers something special at home. Coley Porter Bell is our long-term branding partner and completely understands our ambition to offer a premium meal that replicates the feeling of eating out, at home. These boxes come without the hassle of a home cooked meal but with all of the satisfaction and bragging rights.”

Tesco Finest Restaurant Collection boxes will be available in 215 Tesco stores and online from today, with 73 of the large stores offering click and collect options.