Exclusive Q&A: T&T Supermarket Employs Creative to Mainstream Asian Food Culture

Retail Leader received insights from Canadian grocery chain T&T Supermarket on bringing its stories to a wider consumer base.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
Elizabeth Christenson profile picture


  • Engaging consumers both online and in person  with fresh programming that makes the customer experience memorable, pleasurable and fun will drive trial in grocery.
  • Retailers who are positioned as product ambassadors educate consumers and make products more accessible.  

Late in 2022, Toronto-based TV director and photographer Justin Wu was appointed creative director at T&T Supermarket, the largest Asian supermarket chain in Canada. Wu is charged with channeling his artistic expertise to introduce the T&T experience and Asian food culture to the mainstream by developing entertaining content across multiple media channels. Retail Leader talks with Wu about the latest in creative and reaching more consumers through media. 

Retail Leader: As Canada’s largest Asian supermarket chain, how has your shopper’s behavior evolved? 

Justin Wu
Justin Wu

Justin Wu: In spite of the pandemic, T&T saw no appreciable dip in people who shop at our stores. People who are fans of T&T still prefer to peruse the shop and experience the offering that we have. It's a fun place to be, and people feel that they're part of a community when they're there. There are still long lines at the kiosks in almost all stores, and we've also experienced growth in online sales. 

RL: How do you plan to use your experience as a TV director and photographer in your position as creative director for T&T? 

Wu: My experience as an expert storyteller will be helping T&T grow by creating fresh, new and exciting programs to educate the wider mainstream market about Asian cuisine and our culture. The goal is to make it more accessible, engaging and fun! This comes in all forms from enhancing the customer in-shop experience to digital media with photography, videos and novel collaborations. 

RL: T&T stores offer customers a selection of Asian products that include  fresh ingredients, traditional sauces, authentic prepared foods, and trendy kitchen and beauty products. What creative opportunities and challenges arise when you are targeting a specific market with a range of products?

Wu: The beauty and success of T&T is their exceptionally wide offering and that we do have something for everyone. The main challenge and opportunity is to pick and choose what best to promote when and where.

RL: T&T has been expanding its physical store count with openings in Toronto; Montreal; Calgary, Alberta; and Coquitlam, British Columbia. How is T&T evolving the physical store experience to engage with today’s consumers?

Wu: We're implementing more educational and experiential elements in the stores to position us as ambassadors for Asian cuisine. This is to help not only make it more accessible, but show why certain ingredients and products are important to our individual cultures and how they can be used or prepared. 

RL: What trends are you currently seeing gain momentum in the retail creative landscape? 

Wu: I'm seeing plenty of creative collaborations happen across industries not only to give customers something fresh and new, but to use that to expand the customer base and draw in a wider, perhaps unexpected audience. 

RL: Where do you think the biggest opportunity lies for leveling up the grocery experience via creative endeavors? 

Wu: I believe it's all down to education and knowledge. At the end of the day groceries are fundamentally ingredients. If more people are made aware and engaged to learn more about foreign cuisine and dishes, this will naturally lead them to want to make it themselves. 

I believe it's critical to create entertaining, fun and creative content in person and online to pique their interest, and that's where my years as an award-winning film director and photographer will significantly aid in that journey. 

RL Rapid Round:

For this last segment, we asked Wu to fill in the blank for these rapid-fire questions below…

The future of retail is: Engaging people both online and offline with fresh programming that makes the customer experience memorable, pleasurable and fun. 

The best career advice you ever received: To never give up and to trust your instincts. 

Piece of media (podcast, book, movie, etc.) that’s inspired you recently: The film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. It's not only an incredible film, but a testament that taking bold risks do pay off, one can shine at any age and that representation really does matter.