Publication: Store Brands

Amazon: King of the Jungle

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January 9, 2018

With its acquisition of Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in cash last summer, it’s evident that Amazon is hungry for a slice of the $668 billion grocery market.

But just how big of a bite does Amazon want to take of the market? And how much of a stake will Amazon, already a major player in several non-food private-branded categories, seek in the burgeoning consumer packaged goods store brands segment, which is reinventing itself with innovative and exclusive offerings every day?

Amazon representatives would not comment on the company’s goals in grocery and private brands for this story, but several industry pundits predicted after Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods that it was just a matter of time before Amazon ruled the grocery industry. But former Amazon decision maker Brittain Ladd, who left the company recently after working there for two years where he helped develop strategies to expand Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry, says that while Amazon has the potential to surpass Walmart and become the nation’s top grocer, he is not so certain the Seattle-based company will attempt to do so.

Through its 460 brick-and-mortar stores received in the Whole Foods deal and its online dominance, Amazon wants […]

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Editor’s blog: Kroger-Lidl Dispute a Good Sign for Private Brands

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August 1, 2017

Brand expert Todd Maute says lawsuit shows how far store brands have come

Brand expert Todd Maute says the lawsuit that The Kroger Co. filed against Lidl, which goes to trial in January, is a good sign for the private brands industry.

In July, Cincinnati-based Kroger filed a federal lawsuit against Arlington, Va.-based Lidl claiming that the German retailer, which at the time had just opened its first U.S. stores, was infringing on Kroger’s well-known “Private Selection” store brand with its “Preferred Selection” store brand. Last week, a U.S. district judge denied Kroger’s request for an injunction that would have forced Lidl to stop selling Preferred Selection. The judge noted that “private” and “preferred” have different definitions and set a Jan. 11 date for a bench trial.

The lawsuit has created much attention and drama in the private brands industry. It is the new kid on the block (Lidl) taking on the veteran and venerated grocer (Kroger).

Maute, a partner at New York-based CBX, a brand agency and retail consultant, says the lawsuit reminds him of years ago when the owners of top consumer product brands always went after what they saw as trademark infringement on the part of private […]

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Faster to market

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November 1, 2016

Retailers should better leverage dedicated own-brand teams, consumer insights, and new technology to streamline the branding process.

During a time of negligible population growth—with millennials slow to have children but eager to try new and exotic products—retailers cannot propel private brand sales simply through low-risk line extensions.

“Because there’s not a lot of population growth, retailers are looking to innovation, and we’re seeing an enormous amount of what’s called ‘rapid prototyping,’” says Todd Maute, a partner with New York-based design consultancy CBX.

How could retailers be more innovative in the store brand space? Although the national-brand equivalent tier still resonates with many consumers, market research has shown that millennials—many of whom still live with their parents and have considerable discretionary income—care about transparent sourcing, corporate social responsibility and the avoidance of ingredients they consider to be harmful. These priorities and misgivings, coupled with millennials’ more adventurous, multicultural food and beverage preferences, create opportunities for retailers to develop new must-have premium brands, lines, and SKUs. And with any luck, some of these new products will go viral on social media.

Among private brand owners, “there will always be the ‘fast followers,’” observes Doug Baker, vice president of private brands for the […]

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Anything But Basic

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July 17, 2016

Stark, unattractive value-tier packaging design is losing favor with consumers.

One-third of consumers consciously seek out private label products to save money, states Chicago-based IRI in its January 2015 report “Private Label & National Brands: Dialing in on Core Shoppers.” More than five years after the official end of the Great Recession, consumers continue to search for affordable grocery options, and nearly half (46 percent) of consumers say they are planning to purchase affordable brands more frequently in the coming year. For this reason, many retailers have started to give their opening-price-point private brands greater attention.

Todd Maute, a partner with New York-based CBX, agrees that there has been a “recent resurgence” in value-tier products.

“They are being treated more strategically than they have been in the past,” he says, especially when it comes to their packaging design. Typically, standard value-tier packaging was “basic” and “cheap” looking because retailers wanted to convey to consumers that the product was inexpensive. However, recent private brand packaging redesigns and opening-price-point brand introductions indicate that retailers are changing the way they present their value tier to consumers.

Make ‘em proud Value-tier private label shoppers are no longer solely income-constrained individuals, says Stephanie Donelson, […]

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