Designing a new dining experience

The owners of Salad Stop had a great story. Mr Daniel Desbaillets and his children Adrien and Katherine wanted to make a difference in other people's lives by providing them with a healthy menu.

The problem was, no one knew about this ideal.

In 2013, the owners approached OX:D, the experience design studio of the Ong & Ong group, a cross-disciplinary design firm.

Salad Stop obtained a grant for the project from DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) to help pay for OX:D's consultancy services.

Salad Stop's problem, says Mr Ken Yuktasevi, 34, director of experience design at OX:D, was that it had nothing to differentiate it from all the other health-food outlets.

The salad bar started in 2009, and there were about 20 competitors within just three years.

Mr Yuktasevi says: "It was crucial for Salad Stop to stand out."

The strategy was experience design. This, explains Mr Mark Wee, 39, who is director at OX:D, is a holistic design approach that includes space, service, branding and product.

OX:D learnt that Salad Stop's owners wanted to deliver a fresh product and make a difference with its healthy menu.

Mr Yuktasevi says: "We noticed that people just looked at their phones while queuing at the salad bar."

To engage them while they were waiting, wooden boards with illustrations and information on nutrition were hung above the counter.

Salad Stop's website also showed the number of calories in each of the items on the menu.

To attract customers who might be clueless about health food, the packaging of takeaway food was designed to be unintimidating and "friendly-looking", says Mr Yuktasevi.

The effort yielded quick results. Within three months of the launch of its first rebranded store at Great World City, in 2013, the number of customers rose by about 15 per cent.

Salad Stop, which now has 11 outlets in Singapore, recently started franchising in India and has just opened its first branch in the Philippines.

This article was first published on February 9, 2015.
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