Publication: PL Buyer

Take the Plunge: Fully Commit to Private Brands and Reap the Benefits

October 29, 2014

By Todd Maute

Commitment can be a sticking point when it comes to retailers and their private label brands. After all, making a serious commitment usually requires a willingness to sacrifice and take risks—and that can be scary.

True commitment also needs to be multidimensional. In retail, this involves fully supporting the brand, not just at shelf, but also within the broader context of the store and through the full gamut of available advertising, marketing and branding channels. Yes, the shelf is (and will continue to be) extremely important. But if merchandise amounts to, say, 80 percent of what consumers see in the store, what about the other 20 percent of that multi-sensorial customer experience? If a retailer has a clearly tepid commitment to their private label, it is hard for consumers to be passionate about the products. What has the retailer done with its signage, décor, graphics, color schemes or even olfactory environment to reinforce its private label brands? How many touch points inside or outside the store offer cues that reinforce the carefully selected attributes of that private label line?

When retailers do take the plunge and fully commit their resources to a portfolio of private label brands, […]

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Satisfaction No Longer Motivates

November 13, 2012

By Todd Maute:

Brand-led strategy the right approach for retailers in the future


From one perspective the news on private label could hardly be better. After all, product quality is much higher these days, and consumer perception has changed dramatically as well. Studies show that about two-thirds of shoppers believe private-label products are as good as the national brands.

“Shoppers report feeling good about buying private label products,” notes a May 2012 report by Perception Research Services International. “Over half (51 percent) say they feel smart/savvy when they buy private label products; and very few – only 11 percent – say they feel self-conscious, with almost none – 3 percent – saying they feel embarrassed when doing so.


Moreover, according to analysts with the research firm Mintel, today’s rosier perceptions “point to the potential for continued growth in private-label food sales and share.” Other observers cite the boost provided by tough economic times. Consumers, they note, are still trading down to private label in droves.

But let’s take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective.

When researchers still feel compelled to ask people whether they feel self-conscious or embarrassed about buying private-label brands, what does […]

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Winners Accept Design Excellence Awards

November 12, 2012

PLBuyer presented awards to the winners of its Design Excellence Awards contest this morning at PLMA’s 2012 Private Label Trade Show.

Busy PLMA patrons started to crowd around the PL Buyer booth as 11 a.m. loomed near today. Taking a break from walking the show floor attendees snapped photos of the winning products, which are displayed in cases at the PLBuyer booth. As the presentation of the awards began, passersby stopped to learn who was among the winners selected from more than 100 submissions.

Editor Chris Freeman did the honors this time around, announcing the winners from the contest now in its second year. Winners chosen for 16 categories, with two products earning Best In Show honors from the panel of judges. Judge Christopher Durham of My Private Brand was present this morning to see awards he helped choose among three other judges, Lindsey Hurr of Immotion Studios, Todd Maute of CBX, and Dennis Whalen of Michael Osborne Design, be presented.

BLDG No. 4 Marketing was the first to receive an award. We spoke with Greg Crombie of BLDG No. 4 Marketing after the ceremony to learn more about Rexall Gripe Water, which won an award for the Baby Care […]

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Design Contest, Top Retailers On Mind

October 11, 2012

As we were working on this issue of PLBuyer, we were also preparing to host the second annual PLBuyer Design Excellence Awards for private label packaging.

Design firms, manufacturers and retailers alike were excited to get their best designs in front of our judges.

Once again this year, we have assembled an all-star panel of private label design experts. They include Todd Maute, senior vice president/partner of New York-based CBX, Lindsey Hurr, vice president of Fort Worth, Texas-based Immotion Studios, Dennis Whalen, vice president of Calif.-based Michael Osborne Design and Christopher Durham, president and chief strategist for My Private Brand.

More than 100 entries were received across 13 categories this year, including frozen, refrigerated, on-shelf, beverages, ethnic, organic, health & personal care, beauty & cosmetics, household goods & supplies, OTC medications, paper products, baby care and pet food/care/supplies.

The winners will be showcased and announced at the 2012 PLMA Show this November.

This issue also features our annual ranking of the top private label retailers of North America. Once again this year we worked with our research partner, RSR, to bring you more detailed and more focused profiles of what these retailers have done and are doing when it comes […]

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Learning to Fly

July 18, 2012

I’m not sure we could have asked for anything more the first time out of the gate.

Nearly 140 people came to Chicago in early June to learn and share their time and experience about the private label industry at PLBuyer’s first conference, Private Label: The Next Generation.

We wanted to fill a niche within our industry, creating a conference that was focused on retailers, the problems and challenges that they face and some of the experiences and successes that they’ve found along the way.

Clearly, we struck a chord. Attendees representing 15 retailers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada were on hand for the event. Some of them were among our strong lineup of speakers, others came along to learn and network.

Our attendees stretched across nearly every channel, with grocery, dollar, warehouse, mass merchandise and convenience represented.

So what did we learn? What could all of us take away from this event?

The general consensus was that the old approach to marketing, merchandising, development and partnerships is not the way to succeed in the future.

Safeway’s Joe Ennen talked about retailers doing their own consumer research and listening to their customers rather than reacting to the national brand […]

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Growing Your Business Smaller

March 21, 2012

By Todd Maute:

Exploring the role of private label within new, small format stores.Now that there’s a big-box store of every variety on just about every corner, it’s hard to remember a time when the neighborhood General Store was where people went for all their shopping needs.

General stores started out as rural or small town stores that carried a broad range of merchandise (usually food staples such as milk and bread, as well as household goods such as hardware and electrical supplies), most of it coming from the town and surrounding local areas. In these stores, you told a salesperson what you wanted and they brought it to you—but people soon tired of waiting.

Enter the self-service supermarket concept, which was introduced in 1916 by Clarence Saunders through his Piggly Wiggly stores, then was tweaked to perfection in the 1930s by Michael Cullen and his King Kullen supermarkets.

Then Sam Walton came along in the 1960s, bringing with him the notion of the “big-box store,” and the rest is history. In 1980, the average SKU count for stores was 15,000; today, the average SKU is around 45,000.

But with all the nostalgia generated from a “simpler time,” and a […]

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