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The Value of Attractive Packaging Design for Private Label

Posted on 20 February 2014

koen-1By / Koen de Jong, Managing Director at International Private La bel Consult (IPLC)

Over the past two decades, private label food products have grown substantially in sales and often directly compete for market share with national brands. Competition between private labels and national brands within the store (intra-store competition) generates consumer welfare through lower overall prices and greater choice for shoppers in the supermarkets.

The average consumer does most of its shopping on auto-pilot. Statistics show that only 18% of shoppers have a list, meaning 82% of purchases are done from memory or prompted when in store. This makes it all the more important for a retailer to invest in attractive and consistent packaging design. Attractive to allow for effective competition with the national brands and consistent to navigate the consumer in his decision making when in the store thus reducing shopper stress. At ’the zero moment of truth’ when the product is about to be taken off the shelf, appealing pack design may be critically important.

More interesting is it to note that Private Label also has a strategic role in the competition between stores (inter-store competition). It allows the retailer to differentiate from other supermarkets as the assortment, prices, product quality and packaging can all be tailored to retailers’ specific needs, allowing them to offer something unique.

A while ago I met with a relatively small sized retailer in the Netherlands insisting on having a unique private label of its own. I argued that product volumes to be sourced would be very modest due to the limited number of stores. Therefore, buying conditions probably would appear to be unattractive making a launch not viable. I was surprised by his answer as he explained that although he realized buying prices would by considerably higher his company still wanted to move ahead as the overall objective was to have a unique private label range thus allowing for an independent pricing strategy of its own.

The opportunity to differentiate from the competition was considered of strategic importance for which he was willing to pay a price. We have supported this retailer as our client and launched a limited number of SKU’s in selected categories. With a packaging design carrying the store banner brand and in line with the store identity the products really stand out on the shelf and are easily recognized by the shopper. It is yet too early to evaluate but the first results seem to prove that this retailer is doing the right thing.

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The Density Dilemma: Always Seek Out The Clearest Voice

Posted on 20 February 2014


By / Perry Seelert

As consumers, we are exposed to as many as 20,000 different messages a day, and actually see about 250 of them, so how do we make sense of this marketing assault to the senses? If you are a marketer of a brand, or particularly a retailer brand, how do you truly get your message heard amidst this clutter? The old way of thinking from an own brand point of view would be to rely purely on your value message. The thought was, if placed correctly and adjacently at the shelf, you didn’t need to do much else. Just let the price comparison do the heavy lifting, and that is persuasion alone, right? Wrong. To succeed in the new world of retailer branding, you need to think and behave like a brand, and here are four keys to address the Density Dilemma

Be Distinct >>

The more distinct and crystallized you are in your brand positioning, the better you will be, but this is a tough thing for many retailers or brands to rationalize. After all, wouldn’t it be best if everyone loved me and shouldn’t I cast the widest net? I have found that many retailers define their points of difference by claiming “most convenient”, “best service”, “greatest value”, “freshest perimeter”, or “widest selection”. When you claim all of these attributes cumulatively, it becomes too many to be credible, and the result is a vanilla, bland positioning. Seek out the most impactful point of difference and really own it. Brands like Toyota (reliability), Target (fashion-forward) and Disney (imagination) all have oneword equities, and the question is, do you?

Ensure Consistency >>

In defining who you are and the points of difference that make you special, you then have to express it through language, and do it consistently. When we work with retailer or CPG brands, we describe five different dimensions that we call the language of the brand. Each brand should have a visual, verbal, structural (if your brand is packaged), environmental (how and where it lives) and personal (your customer service) language. Most importantly the five dimensions need to be consistent in their overall tone of voice. Apple is a great example of a brand that is synergistic in its equity expression, which could be defined by words like “simplicity, modernity and intuitiveness”. At every visual, verbal, structural, environmental and personal turn, the language of the brand is consistent.

No Gratuitous Density >>

It is key to not try to claim too much in your brand’s positioning, but it is also important not to say too much, especially things that are obvious and extraneous. This just compounds the Density Dilemma for consumers. Wegman’s brands their spring water under their “Food You Feel Good About” banner, and I have always thought this is painfully obvious. Flags, bursts, symbols and call-outs are often more distracting than clarifying. Orville Redenbacher popcorn makes a big point of calling out Gluten-Free, but popcorn by definition is gluten-free, so they are playing to the lowest common denominator in consumer knowledge.

Gut-Check Your Voice >>

As a retailer or retailer brand, the clarity of your voice and the language by which you express it is increasingly important, especially in a world that is not 100% driven by NBE thinking anymore. Gut-check your voice internally and also seek out partners that can guide this marketing exercise within your company.

The language of retailer brands is where we all can improve in the future. Don’t crowd your brand’s voice by claiming too much, and avoid the Density Dilemma at all costs.

Perry Seelert is retail branding and marketing expert, with a passion for challenging conventional strategy and truths. He is the Strategic Partner and Co-founder of Emerge, a strategic marketing consultancy dedicated to helping Retailers, Manufacturers and Services grow exponentially and differentiate with purpose. Please contact Perry at

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Reflections on the Future of Retail Brands

Posted on 20 February 2014

daymon-1By / David Lopes, President & General Manager, International Private Brand Develo pment, Daymon Worldwide

The beginning of the year is always a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. When considering retail and the future of brands, what we know and experience today will not be the same tomorrow. The future of retail and brands will be rooted in trust. We live in a world in which institutions collapse and disappoint us, and thus the companies and brands with true staying power are the ones that are able to win the trust and hearts of their customers. This relationship is built not only by creating value and providing safety, happiness and enjoyment to consumers, but increasingly companies and brands are being judged on fair pricing, ethics and overall transparency. These are the matters that will become more critical in the coming years.

This holds true for private brands, as all regions of the world will continue to witness the development of own brands by retailers. This is a fascinating subject, however it has nothing to do with the traditional battle between manufacturer and retailer brands. Private brands will no longer be synonymous with low price and, likewise, industry brands will not have a monopoly on quality and innovation. The future of private brands has much more to do with the capacity to innovate, to offer a quality service linked to the product and sale, and to do all this in a continuous and sustainable way. The world that is emerging is a collaborative world; a world in which ideas and the capacity to implement them will define the leaders, more so than controlling the means of production.

However, producers too are in need of deep reflection. When, for example, we think of China, we think of the world’s factory, given its cheap labor. But we neglect to think that they are one of the most creative and flexible people in the world and that in the next 30 years they will, through internal economic growth, “lift” 300 million consumers into the middle class, equivalent to the population of the USA. It is a middle class which craves food security, and millions of producers with growing awareness that they will have to adopt rigorous brand management principles if they want to not only survive, but succeed, both domestically and internationally.

Another profound revolution shaping our interaction with brands is the way we relate to and influence others. Information is being made available to us without intermediaries. We are all writers and editors, spectators and protagonists. Throughout the world there is growing concern on the part of producers and retailers to incorporate this new behavior into their strategies. The challenge that lies ahead deals with owning the responsibility and the consequences of linking brands and companies to the consumer; knowing that he has a voice and an opinion and that he can use it in a more powerful way than ever before to either recommend or criticize.

So, what else does the future of retail hold? I see a scenario of continued consolidation by retailers, mainly in markets where the concentration is still not very high, and I see another phenomenon which is for me by far the most interesting and which is related to the attempt to discover new concepts, new formats, new channels. Half the world is trying to reinvent the traditional hypermarket. The other half of the world is testing online concepts and transforming supermarkets into a hybrid between a restaurant, a market or a café…I am sure that in the next five years we will see the appearance of new retailers and brands which will be successful but which we have not heard of yet.

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Same, Same, Same, Different!

Posted on 26 November 2013

same-differentBy / Christopher A. Durham: President & Chief Strategist, My Private Brand

Much has been said over the last few years about the evolution of retailer owned brands from generic to private label to brand. However, the reality of that evolution is much exaggerated. The vast majority of retailers in the world are still trapped somewhere on the continuum between generic and private label. They are followers who fluctuate between mimicking national brands and other retailers.

The evidence is all around us – walk the aisles of any grocer in the United Kingdom, France or the United States, take a look at their private brand portfolio and look for strategic differentiation. Look for design differentiation. Look for product differentiation. You will quickly discover that despite the beautiful modern package design, there is a strategic uniformity and dull sameness that has invaded the retailers and ultimately destroyed differentiation. Continue Reading

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Pricing Private Labels

Posted on 26 November 2013

front-line-1By / Richard Kohn

Private Label products are always priced lower than branded equivalents – right? Often yes, but is that always the best policy? Should we not aspire to elevate the positioning of our private brands to make them more attractive?

Thankfully, private brand positioning has moved on from whitelabel, lowest price point pricing but the image still lingers in the mind of consumers that private brands are of lower quality than branded alternatives. This is partly driven by the pricing policy of category managers within retail who have a tendency to view private brand as the automatic choice for lowest price point products in their category. It’s partly driven by retailers (supported by manufacturers) believing that consumers are always looking for low priced products to fill their baskets. Continue Reading

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The Best Judge of Quality is the Consumer

Posted on 26 November 2013

kdj-largeBy / Koen de Jong, Managing Director at International Private Label Consult (IPLC )

This May, I was a guest speaker at a symposium in the United Kingdom on invitation of The Institute of European and Comparative Law of the University of Oxford. Topic of this year’s event was: Trends in Retail Competition: Private labels, brands and competition policy.

The night prior to the event I stayed at a bed & breakfast in a little village near Oxford. As the lady of the house served scrambled eggs for breakfast she asked ‘would you be so kind to let us know how our eggs taste?’ As she noticed my surprise she explained: ‘we are comparing the quality of eggs of a few farmers in the vicinity to decide where to get the chickens for our newly built henhouse’. Continue Reading

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The Inner Truths To Best-In-Class

Posted on 26 November 2013

perryBy / Perry Seelert

What ’s Inside Drives What You See Outside

We live in a results-oriented world, and this is good as long as people understand that your outward performance is led by inner strengths. When the own brand industry refers to “best-in-class”, this is usually a discussion that focuses on the metrics and what we see in-store: who has the highest share, who has the most items, who demonstrates the greatest innovation? Continue Reading

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Where Are All the Other Runners?

Posted on 21 September 2013


The amount of croissants I had consumed in the past week shouldn’t be legally allowed. Paris was feeding me an endless plate of macarons, creme brûlée, and chocolate crêpes; how could I refuse? I had to start running again. But as I dodged old ladies walking their dogs, school children twirling their backpacks, and the inevitable sidewalk café, I couldn’t help but wonder: where are all the other runners?

By / ALEXANDRA Creange

I never encountered another runner, or anyone else who seemed to be exercising for that matter. I could feel the locals staring at me, and naïvely thought it was because of my neon shorts. After a few more eerily similar running experiences, I stopped. No one else in Paris was exercising, so why should I? I was determined to discover the French secret to staying slim while consuming a diet full of, well, everything I had ever learned was bad for you.

As I became more familiar with everyday life in France, I realized that the French “secret” for staying thin was really no secret at all. Learning to eat like a Parisian, walk like a Parisian, and carry groceries up six flights of stairs like a Parisian, taught me the fundamental differences between American and French lifestyles. One faces an obesity epidemic while the other remains perfectly healthy. Continue Reading

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Come Fly with Me

Posted on 21 September 2013

Hague-2As a kid, the birthday wish was the all-important-part of my birthday celebration. Blowing out those candles meant there was a glimmer of hope that some small dream in my heart would have a chance of coming true.

By / Irene tortorella Continue Reading

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Where Are The Heroes?: The Future Of Signature Products

Posted on 21 September 2013

Perry-Seelert-march-2013-featureSometimes we have to look at our past to chart the future, and so let’s go back to 1988 at Loblaw, when the President’s Choice “Decadent” chocolate chip cookie launched. It was amazing in its marketing simplicity, and this is why it became the #1 selling cookie throughout Canada in less than a year. Simple and brilliant.

By / Perry Seelert

The category territory was intelligent too in that Dave Nichol intentionally targeted cookies (one of the highest volume categories) where own brands hadn’t proven themselves, and where Nabisco’s Chips Ahoy was a well entrenched, but a pretty marginal product experience.

The bold language at the time for the brand, let alone a retailer brand, “Decadent”, helped to get it noticed and give it some much needed hype, but it was the skilled twisting of product features that was the beauty of it all. The Decadent has more chocolate chips than Chips Ahoy, in fact 39% of the entire cookie, which was a blaring feature on the pack and embedded throughout the graphic language. It also was made with real creamery butter versus HFCS and cottonseed oils. Continue Reading

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