Classy, but friendly - How Altigreen stores strike the fine balance
By N Jayalakshmi | March 15, 2023
EV 3-wheeler brand Altigreen, which has been on an expansion drive, is leveraging its store space, conceptualised and designed by Michael Foley, to reinforce the brand story and connect with its diverse customer base.
The medium is very often the message, and stores are very often the medium for a brand message. In the case of EV brand Altigreen, the stores were meant to convey its message of accessibility, sustainability and tech-centricity - a tall order indeed, from a design point of view. After all, it meant striking a fine balance between diverse aspects - sleek, minimalist aesthetics on one hand and an open, inviting space catering to a diverse range of customer profiles, on the other. But Altigreen stores, with the design concept developed by Michael Foley, have managed to achieve just the right balance.
“Making it look stylish and contemporary was a given, but we didn’t want people to walk away from the store, so it had to look inviting at the same time,” says Michael Foley, Founder, Foley Designs Pvt Ltd, speaking about the design project, adding, “We had to also convey the sustainable and eco-friendly aspect of the brand and bring that alive in the store space.”
Well, the design narrative of the Altigreen stores is rooted in the brand story itself. As Debashish Mitra, Director - Sales, Service & Marketing, Altigreen, which has rapid expansion plans across the country, says, talking about the brand origin, “Altigreen was started 10 years back with the aim of reducing automobile pollution in India and getting into the EV space. We realised that most of the technologies in the EV space were developed internationally and adapted to India, but they were not well suited for Indian conditions. So we focused on building indigenous technology that could tackle Indian roads and weather conditions. We began commercial production in January 2021, starting with B2B customers around the country and have been expanding to the retail B2C network in the last 6 months.”
For the brand, which has 22 showrooms across the country and plans to end the financial year with 30 stores, the stores were thus meant to convey the brand legacy, while resonating with its target audience. As both Debashish and Michael share, the idea was to create a differentiated experience for the customers without making it too intimidating for them, especially since it caters to a diverse range of customer profiles - from fleet aggregators and agencies to individual load operators and auto drivers.”
Executing the design checklist
While the overarching store design objective was thus defined, the critical need, as Michael shares, was for a smartly designed chain, rather than a single store solution - an identity design template that could be extended across the country. This meant the showroom design had to be scalable, adaptable and modular. Also, the store concept, while bringing alive the strong technology foundation of Altigreen, had to highlight its focus on people too.
All of these broad objectives were thus translated into the following elements, among others:
- Use of greens and charcoal greys to convey the green aspect of the product
- Interactive spaces designed to be more inclusive, with no barriers between the sales personnel and the customers
- Relatable visual imagery that reflects customer aspirations
- Lean and flexible fixtures that can be easily fabricated by local vendors
- Use of accessible and versatile materials
- Use of illuminated frames to highlight product displays
- Placement of free charging points
Summing up the design journey
The whole design project, which took about 4-5 months from start to finish, presented some interesting challenges to the design team. As Michael sums up, “Essentially we had to create a striking space and brand identity while keeping the capex under control. So the whole design concept was about creating elements that stood out, more in terms of perception, rather than cost. The fact is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create the perception of newness. So I’d say the challenges were interesting. Also, the EV space itself offers an interesting opportunity as it connects to the future. ” The other challenges were more in terms of execution, including floor lighting in certain store spaces, varying ceiling heights, fabrication, etc. But the end result has done full justice to the objectives, as Debashish remarks.
Meanwhile, as the brand lines up new plans to expand its footprint and also its product range and target audience, one can expect its retail space to evolve dynamically, promising to redefine the way customers engage with EV brands and make their purchase decisions.