Those new to Switzerland, will quickly notice that one of the first things to appear everywhere, and which you probably haven’t seen before is, “Migros”. Migros is first and foremost a supermarket. The second shop you may have seen before, (abroad) and on a much smaller scale than in Switzerland, is Coop. Coop in Switzerland is enormous with branches everywhere too. These two supermarkets dominate Swiss shopping loyalties but carry slightly different reputations.
Coop has a reputation for being more expensive, but of a higher quality, and Migros for being cheaper, yet sensible and still of good quality. In more recent years the German shopping chains, Aldi and Lidl have perhaps also gained a bit of a foothold in the market.
It can be quite surprising to learn what everyday brands sit behind the big two and how difficult it can be, to actually avoid them should you even want to. Some of them are fairly obvious, but with others, it would be difficult to guess that they are linked to one of the “big two”.
Let’s have a brief look at those links, to see how Migros and Coop might be dominating the Swiss shopping landscape.
|DIY||DoIt & Garden||Jumbo|
|Gyms||Active Fitness||Lets Go Fitness|
|Travel /Holiday||Migros Ferien||Coop Travel|
|Department Store||Globus||Coop City|
|Furniture||MiCasa||Livique (Lummimart for Lamps)|
|Further Education||Migros Klubschule|
Swiss retail chains not linked to either Coop or Migros, are rare, for example ,the department store “Manor”, the toy shop “Franz Carl Weber” and the furniture shops “Conforama”, “Lipo” and “Pfister”. Others such as the bookshop “Orelli Fussli” might seem commonplace, but not if you live in the Romandie (French part of Switzerland), they have “Payot” instead. Other retail chains tend to have a more local presence such as “Lüthi”, the book shop and “Bächli” the mountain sport in the Bern region.
Migros and Coop are both cooperatives and most people carry around the loyalty cards in their wallets or on their phone. The usage of these cards which can be used in nearly all of the above entities collects points. These points can be used to purchase further items. Migros may issue direct vouchers. Coop also issue points for purchases to collect and use to purchase massively reduced items from a themed range.
Each of the retail brands run successful take-away, good value self service restaurants which are found in most of their medium and upwards sized supermarkets and shopping centres. They both manage their own budget ranges know as “Prix Garantie” (Coop) and Migros Budget with simplified packaging as well as higher-end product ranges such as Migros Selection and Coop Fine Food great for treating yourself and for dinner parties where invariably the question will be “where did you get that ?” as the answer is mostly “it is only Migros/Coop”
Past and Future
Migros was founded in 1925 in Zurich as a private enterprise by Gottlieb Duttweiler, and who had the idea of selling just six basic foodstuffs at low prices to householders who, in those days, did not have ready access to markets of any kind. At first he sold only coffee, rice, sugar, pasta, coconut fat and soap from five trucks that went from village to village. The strategy to cut the intermediate trade and their margins led to the broad resistance of his competitors persuaded producers to boycott him. As a reaction to this threat, Migros started creating its own line of goods beginning with meat, milk and chocolate.
Fast forward to today and Migros is not just the biggest retailer in Switzerland, but also the most sustainable retailer in the world. In addition, with over 100,000 employees, it is the biggest private employer in the country. Migros Industrie itself is a key employer and employs 14,000 people, including 554 apprentices in over 30 trades. Migros has also more recently experimented with staff-free and bio only mini-shops. The ethos of Migros stems from its founder, Gottlieb Duttweiler who said: “In the long run, I can only do well if everyone is doing well“. This has been a central pillarof the Migros Group ever since and will continue to be in future.
The Coop was founded in 1969 in Basel.It is structured in the form of a cooperative society with around 2.5 million members. As of 2019, Coop operates 2,478 shops and employs more than 90,000 people in Switzerland.
Its brand is supported by commitment to the community it serves and by sustainability. The Coop promotes more sustainability in various areas and offers customers “unforgettable experiences: with sponsorship of cultural and sporting events.
Sustainability is also a key pillar and the Coop has Switzerland’s largest selection of organic-grade fish and seafood, an award-winning environmentally friendly combination of road and rail to transport goods and an official partnership with the Swiss Red Cross – these are three of more than 400 sustainable actions that have been developed and taken in retail alone.
Switzerland is a relatively small country, even though its population has grown rapidly in recent years to reach nearly 9 million.. Its people have an amazing choice of retail brands, offering quality and great prices. The two retail giants, Migros and Coop lead the way and will continue to offer sustainable and community focused products with a great service offer in future. What is your favourite?
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