I recently shared some thoughts on how CPG manufacturers can protect their brands from private label expansion. Of course, it didn’t take long to hear back from retailers asking for tips on growing their own brands so here are a few private label ideas for our retailer friends.
• Study the category consumer before going upscale. Consumer understanding is the common thread among top-selling brands. It’s not enough for a retailer to roll out a quality product in premium packaging.
• Disguise your premium store brands. Many consumers still associate private label with cheap knockoffs. There – I said it. But what if they don’t know it’s a store brand? Look to position premium store brands as exclusive products like Choxie at Target and Canopy at Walmart.
• Get your pricing right. The price gap between store brands and national brands varies significantly across categories. The same shopper who chooses private label bottled water for a 3% discount may require at least 20% savings for private label barbecue sauce.
• Offer multiple brands in multiple tiers. Although Costco may be the exception, most retailers are finding growth with multiple store brands. No one brand can stand for value and gourmet and healthy eating.
• Eliminate weak links. One bad product experience can hurt the entire store brand, not to mention the retail banner itself. Product quality needs to be consistent across each store brand. Your brand’s perceived quality is only as good as its weakest SKU.
• Drive trial. If your store brand is really as good as the national brand (or better), let your shoppers try it. Offer a free package with a $50 purchase. Consider a trial size or in-store product demos.
• Promote your store brands. There’s a wide range of feature ad support for private label. Using ECRM’s Marketgate data, we found that private label’s percent of feature ads ranged from 45% at Wegmans to 25% at HEB to only 10% of ads at Publix.
• Don’t be too quick to drive out value brands. Some value brands can drive lower price and higher margins than retailers can achieve through private label. The shampoo category is an excellent example with some well-known brands at very low prices.
• Embrace a cause. Use package labeling to show how your store brand supports local suppliers, promotes health & wellness, saves the environment, or funds local charities. You’ll find that many of these causes attract similar consumers. Regardless of sales performance, taking the high road can help to build a retailer’s image.
• Understand the difference between strong sales vs. strong brand equity. Walmart’s Great Value brand claims to be the #1 food brand across categories, but would shoppers ever choose Great Value over a national brand at the same price point?
Bonus: (It’s one better than a top 10 list) Sell your store brand in someone else’s stores. Safeway is taking the lead by selling its “Eating Right” and “O” brand at other retailers in non-competing markets. Opportunities exist for retailers to sell their store brands not just in new markets, but in new channels (convenience, hardware, toy stores) in their own. Share your tips, stories, feedback in the comments below.