My first involvement with private label products was more than 30 years ago while working at K-Mart and learning about the Focal brand that was sold in the camera department. The concept of a store having its own brands struck me as incredibly smart, and I still think so today!
If you have a private label, or are considering one, here are three things to keep in mind when selling it in your natural store.
1. Price your private label right.
Historically, private label brands are thought of as cheap knock-offs or replacements for quality name brand products. If you think of the lifeless, blank or ugly packaging that were part and parcel of many private label items over the years, that thought fits.
However, private label products have changed. Due to economic concerns, sales of private label have been very strong for the past few years. With those increased sales, stores have increased the quality and packaging of what they offer in their own brands.
Consider the store brands inside a Target store: Archer Farms, Market Pantry, Choxie, Up and Up, etc. Walgreen’s has done a similar facelift on its brands with Nice as a very visible brand with a clean, appealing label. Even Walmart has upped the look on Great Value.
The result is that consumers are not surprised to find a quality product in private label, even from these discount-oriented, mass-market outlets. What do they expect to find when your store name and logo is on the product?
If your product is the cheapest, lowest-quality item in your store is that saying that your store is the cheapest, lowest-quality health retailer in your community?
Your store is a brand. It means something to your shoppers. In their minds it should equate to quality, health, purity and value.
Be sure that your private label is priced high enough to reflect that image. Also, be sure that you are priced competitively with name brands in your store, but if you have chosen a good supplier to partner with you and produce quality products, your pricing should reflect that.
2. You can have more than one private label.
Next time you're at Whole Foods Market, look at the variety of private label items they have available and notice that in many areas they have multiple brands. Some are premium priced and others are discounted.
If you think that you need a discount brand in your store, you can get one and offer it…or you can create one! You are allowed to have more than one private label brand.
If doing a discount line, my immediate suggestion is that you make sure that it has a different look than your current line. It also needs to have a different name. Find a good name to trademark.
Just like with your store-branded line, if customers like what you offer in this discounted brand, your store will be the only place that they can find it. You are building repeat business with every sale!
A word of caution: Even though this brand is focused on a lower price point, be sure that you are working with a quality supplier. Yes, you want a low cost so that your pricing can be low, but this brand is still sold in your store. It still has to meet your standards for quality.
3. Give your private label prime real estate.
Your private label brand is your premier brand. Proudly put it front and center!
If you merchandise by category or by structure/function claim and not by brand, put your private label product in every category that it belongs in. Also set aside a prominent place to merchandise it as a brand.
Be sure to include your private label products in flyers, newsletters, end caps, gift baskets and other marketing efforts.
Like these ideas? I moderated a panel at the 2012 Natural Products Association (NPA) MarketPlace show in Las Vegas. The audio of the session will be available in a couple of weeks. Listen in for more great tips from me and the other experts on the panel.
If you are store with a strong private label program, please share what you are doing to grow this important part of your store in the comments section below.