Showing posts with label private label. Show all posts
Showing posts with label private label. Show all posts

Monday 18 April 2016

Tailoring your brand portfolio to new retail realities...

As the multiples struggle to adjust to the consumer's shift to smaller, cheaper, faster, closer, more convenient and online shopping by selling surplus outlets and trying to manage lower productivity caused by redundant space in their estates by culling SKUs, the consequences for brands are hopefully obvious.

In other words, with less shelf space available, only strong brands can maintain their facings, unless you can prove otherwise....

Moreover, brands are further threatened by the fact that much of the multiples' growth is via private label (if in any doubt, why not dig into your in-house Kantar data?), and discounters' via surrogate labels.., all adding to the need for new retail strategies..

In the face of these 'permanent' market changes, it follows that branded suppliers need to re-set what may be a pre-2008 approach by re-evaluating the relative appeal of their brand portfolios to suit current retail realities.

Essentially, this means fundamentally re-assessing consumer appeal, by brand, by retailer, vs. available competition to ensure each SKU of each brand has a defensible rationale to justify its on-shelf presence in each of the multiples.

In practice, this will mean you will have a different brand portfolio for each of the multiples, with possible regional variations to match local need.

Finally, any of your brands that do not meet these criteria should be diverted to other channels, before the multiples do it on your behalf...  

Monday 4 April 2016

Waitrose raises the Private Label bar - a threat for all brands?

News that Waitrose is rolling out 'Waitrose 1' premium label across 500 food products, replacing some premium ranges but adding ‘new and improved lines’ raises some issues for suppliers:
  • Given that Waitrose tops the league table for best place to buy private label (Which? report 2015, 47% of products tested achieved best-buy status) this represents an extra emphasis on premium own label
  • Bearing in mind that Aldi came 2nd, Sainsbury’s 3rd and Lidl fourth in the same survey, it is likely that other mults may take the Waitrose move as an incentive to upgrade their private label offerings
  • With all mults in the same large-space, out-of-town boat, their growth will be at the expense of other mults...
  • Price-cutting on brands has not worked and has impacted bottom lines...
  • ...and private label remains the only real differentiator for the mults
  • This could mean we are entering a new type of food-based private label quality-war, which if it works, could spread to other categories

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Guest Blog: Riding Two Horses – Managing a Mixed Business For Success by Richard Nall

It is the eternal conundrum for many CPG suppliers:  Should we ‘get into’, or stay in, Own Label?

With core customers losing share (e.g. to grocery discounters), and lean manufacturing techniques releasing capacity year after year, organisations face a constant battle to fill their factories.  Other solutions, such as exporting, take time to research, and appointing the right distributor can be fraught with difficulties; whilst M&A can exacerbate the problem (and concurrently release second hand kit for sale following manufacturing rationalisation, inadvertently creating a new competitor).

Superficially, it can seem attractive to fill capacity with own label but if that is as far as your thinking goes, then stay with your knitting.  I suggest that you think carefully how you will ride both horses, both today and tomorrow.  Is the problem that your and your competitors’ brands are not distinctive enough, or are your innovation efforts too weak?  For many, these might be improved, so this should be your immediate focus.

If you still believe that your future lies in own label then start with a mental re-positioning.  Think Retail Brand or Customer Brand.  Successful firms treat customers’ brands as their own with concomitant levels of brand development and innovation resource.  The only outwardly visible difference should be the lack of dialogue investment for the latter.  Start with a crystal clear category vision, defining consumer and shopper growth drivers, followed by a hard-edged discussion as to portfolio roles, and expected levels of financial and organisational benefit and resource requirement.

You might ask yourselves some questions such as:  Why would competing in retail brand be a good thing?  What is their role in driving category sales and profit?  With which retailer(s) do we want to work?  What value would we add?  How can we differentiate from our proprietary brands?  How do we sustain those differences?  What financial and organisational benefits will it bring?  What rules need laying down?

An answer to these questions might look like:  “Competing in Customer Brands allows us to drive category growth, and compete against Brand(s) X (Y and Z) with a diverse portfolio differentiated between the core category drivers.  We will focus Brands A & B on Drivers M & N and develop our customer brand portfolio against Drivers P and Q where Brand(s) X (Y and Z) are strongest.  Our category insight and operational capabilities set us apart so that we will make superior profits vs customer brand competitors.”

“We will earn scale benefits - procurement, manufacturing, distribution and trading - enhancing cash flow and shareholder returns.  This will provide opportunity for increased investment in our branded portfolio.  Net, we will fix our competitors with customer brands, gaining freedom of action to grow our branded business.  Through learning how to be effective retail brand developers, we will create a more agile organisation that operates with significantly greater urgency than today.”

It might sound good but you need to consider, make and stick to some hard decisions re: key practicalities:  How do we ensure our brand development stream remains a core priority and is not disrupted by short-term customer demands?  How will we prioritise resource bottlenecks?  How do we retain corporate enthusiasm for proprietary brands against customer brands?  What IP will we allocate to Customer Brand innovation, if any?  What are our ‘lines in the sand’, and are we REALLY prepared to enforce them?

If you think some of this might be nit-picking, think again.  They are critical issues our clients face daily.  Time and again, we have seen Leadership Teams, and particularly the CEO/MD, inadequately articulate and police their expectations here.  The consequence?  Resource and innovation that should sustain proprietary brands is diverted onto customer ranges.  Over time, the brand stumbles, becoming less important to the manufacturer and customer who is (usually) earning better margins on their own products.  The long-term outcome is invariably commoditisation and category stagnation as insight & discovery, true innovation, and dialogue investment decreases with marketing expenditure switched to customers to prop up sales.

So if this is a live issue for you, or you are already riding both horses, pause and reflect upon the strategic choices you are making, and ensure that your organisation (particularly your sales and innovation teams) fully understands what they are, what they mean, that they buy into them, and, critically, that they abide by them.

Richard Nall -

Thursday 14 August 2014

Where next for Aldi, Lidl and private label in the upturn?

Brand owners taking comfort in the belief that the swing to private label and the discounters’ surrogate brands (i.e. Smith’s coffee made exclusively for Aldi) is a temporary aberration due for correction in the current ‘upturn’, might lose a little sleep following the publication of new research on how consumer knowledge affects the choice of private label over national brands.

Mark Ritson gives a great summary of the paper and its implications in Marketing Week, where he notes
- Category knowledge (and the resulting confidence) is a key predictive driver in choosing private label
- ...if people are buying private labels not because they are trading quality for lower prices but because they know these products are as good as the manufacturer brands (Aldi, Lidl and private label will not lose share in the upturn).

Mark’s Marketing Week article is much more accessible, but it can also pay to go back to the original research paper for more details on OTC medicines and Pantry Staples. The paper also gives anecdotal insights such as … the welfare claims we make (for medicines) depend on the assumption that information per se does not affect the utility a consumer receives from a product. If, for example, believing that national-brand aspirin works better actually makes national-brand aspirin more effective at reducing headaches, then informing consumers could actually make them worse off…

The original paper concludes:
  • Across a range of products we find strong evidence that more informed shoppers buy more store brands and fewer national brands.
  • Consumer information plays a large quantitative role in health categories, where our estimates imply that expenditures and market shares would change significantly if all households behaved like expert shoppers.
  • By contrast, the role of consumer information is smaller in food and drink categories, where our estimates suggest much smaller gaps between expert and non-expert shopping behaviour...
    i.e. a moderately savvy consumer is likely to have more confidence in opting for private label food and drink, than medicines…
NB. The researchers emphasise that the study was limited to examining the effects of information on quantities and prices. If consumers were to become more informed, markets would adjust on other bases as well. In particular, a more informed population of consumers might change whether and how much firms choose to advertise their products, as well as which products are introduced to the market. 

NAM Implications:
For many years we have been educating the consumer to be more savvy in their choice of our brand, and have been helping them place the brand within a functionally-based category context…

Have we been inadvertently driving them at the private label/surrogate brand in the process?

Thanks to Guy Cuthbert for the pointer…

Friday 2 May 2014

Saucy Fish David wins biblical injunction against giant Aldi

                                                                                                                              pic: Daily Mail

Supermarkets may be forced to remove 'copycat' products following the legal victory by a small British fish business in winning an injunction against Aldi, causing the retailer to remove its ‘Saucy Salmon Fillets’ from sale following complaints from the Saucy Fish Company.

This breakthrough injunction represents what appears to be a fundamental change in legal stance from ‘intent’ to ‘effect’ in the case of products attempting to take a short-cut into product recognition.

In other words, the legal spotlight moves from intent of the perpetrator in designing a pack description -difficult to prove - to assessing the effect on the shopper, which can be easier to measure in terms of volume of shopper complaints…

However, as all brand owners know, a complaint by a consumer represents merely the tip of a reaction-iceberg, so the negative impact of a ‘short-change’ issue should not be judged on the basis of the number of complaints that reach the ‘Customer Relations’ desk. Instead, a factor of 10++ might usefully be applied to try to guage the extent of the damage done to the wrongdoer’s brand equity…

Moreover, taking another lesson from the brand-owner’s manual, when a consumer gets more than they expect from a brand, they tell one friend, when ‘short-changed’ they try to inform 10+…  And given current levels of access to social media, the consequences are hopefully obvious…

Yesterday’s ruling represents a dilemma for retailers in that they still need to find a way of helping the consumer to recognise and position the product, without incurring the cost, risk and need to exceed ROI hurdle-rates of normal brand building.

Perhaps the way forward for retailers is to focus on a combination of heavy corporate proposition-building - a guarantee that you always get more than you expect - and providing a clear definition of category, and the retailer’s contribution to that category in terms of their own product…

In other words, the retailer is offering a product solution in the category that uses the retail ‘brand’ to provide reassurance to shoppers that need confirmation of a trusted retailer’s endorsement of what they have chosen to purchase.

This is patently easier in the case of normal private label such as Tesco/Sainsbury's/Asda/Morrisons’ brand, than with surrogate label products such as Smiths coffee for Aldi/Lidl, etc.

However, whilst a bad experience with a private label can reflect negatively on the retailer, disappointment in a surrogate label can be dismissed as resulting from a rogue ‘supplier’ that can be replaced with a product more in keeping with the retailer's norms…

Meanwhile, as always, given that it can be better to act before consumers demand change, retailers might be well advised to now ‘step back and look at themselves’, moving their perspective from ‘intent’ to ‘effect’ in making changes to their product packaging, before the consumer-shopper does it on their behalf…

Thursday 21 November 2013

Amazon Expanding Its Own Private Label Offering to Supermarket Goods?

Recent postings by Amazon give another reason for keeping an eye on job listings…

Allthings D report that one of the listings, for a financial analyst, mentioned the “launch of the Private Label Business in Consumables.” In another, for a “Senior Product Manager, Consumables Private Label,” Amazon said it is looking for the new hire to help “launch new high quality Amazon-branded products to our global customers.”

The consumables business at Amazon includes categories such as grocery, health, personal care and baby products. The AmazonFresh grocery delivery business also is part of the area.

Although Amazon private label has had a low profile to date, we believe that the ongoing recession is causing the company to mirror the growth of private label in classic retail.

Given the level of Amazon credibility, combined with its service record and responsiveness to consumer demand, the idea seems a ‘no-brainer’.

Either way, surely worth a what-if by branded and private label suppliers alike?

Hat-tip to Lisa Byfield-Green for pointing us at this news item

Wednesday 19 September 2012

How Poundland makes its millions - the brand-issue for suppliers and retailers

Monday's Poundland item in NamNews resulted in over 250 downloads, indicating a high degree of NAM-interest and perhaps curiosity re possible 'trick-missing' in some cases.

Given that the Telegraph article was also the subject of a 30-min prime TV programme (see 'Dispatches: Secrets of Poundland’ on September 17, Channel 4, 8pm) poundshop optimisation raises important issues for suppliers wanting to maintain their brand equity.

Coping with inflation
In order to maintain the £1 price-point, suppliers and pound-shops have reduced pack-contents over the years. This is about consumer expectation, not the letter of promotions' legislation. As you know the original idea of branding was to persuade the consumer that the contents were safe, consistent and matched or even exceeded the expectation created by the advertising.... Think of the impact on a loyal user of having the contents of a £1 Family pack reduced by 50% in five years.
We all know why it happens, but we need to focus more on the impact

Extra-value packs 
Pound shops sell a number of well-known brands with “50% Extra Free”, or even “100% Extra Free”, on the packaging. i.e. a pack of eight bars for £1,while the mults offer the same eight bars for £1 also, without the flash.   Again a potential bad taste...

Consumer perception as driver
The issue is not about morality or even the letter of the law, but is more about the negative impact on consumer perception, a serious dilution of hard-won brand equity.
In the process we risk converting a savvy consumer into a cynical shopper that nowadays has the incentive and means to express their opinions via the internet...

The way forward
Brand-owners need to meet trade needs, but not at a cost to brand equity. Brand equity has to remain sacrosanct, its all you've got... Also, the retailers face the same challenge in preserving shop brand equity whilst responding to shopper demands, a possible basis for joint consultation?

It all goes back to trust in business, the basis for everything, and worth a lot more than a pound...

Monday 19 March 2012

Private Label - The Fifth Generation?

                                                                                                        pic: BBC
No longer content with even the Finest Fourth Generation, Senbikiya sells only perfect fruit - with a price tag to match!
As you know (!), giving fruit as a gift is a common custom in Japan. But this fruit is not your normal greengrocers' produce, complete with bumps, bruises and blemishes. The pick of the crop is grown with exquisite care and attention to detail - and commands an eye-watering price when it comes to market.

Instore refinement
Classical music plays softly over the speakers in the Senbikiya shop in central Tokyo. The uniformed members of staff are politely attentive, ushering the customers to chairs and crouching down beside them to take their orders.
The ceilings are high, the fittings elegant, the lighting tasteful and the displays are beautiful. But this is not some designer handbag emporium or high-end jewellery store.  Senbikiya is a greengrocers!
See 10 pic Slideshow

The ultimate assortment 
There are apples, the size of a child's head, with evenly red, blemish-free skin on sale for 2,100 yen, or $25. That's each, not for a bag. Senbikiya Queen Strawberries come in boxes of twelve perfectly matched fruits at 6,825 yen, $83. Even on a slow day they sell 50 boxes.
Then there are the melons, each perfect, of course, and topped with identical T-shaped green stalks. They're 34,650 yen, or $419, for three.
Given Japan’s gradual emergence from 20 years of austerity, could the launch of a Tesco Fifth Generation in Private label be a more credible sign of the UK’s faltering steps out of recession via new levels of quality…?