$107.5 Million Worth of Great Taste?

a-p-coffee-ad-01Private brand coffee seems to be all the rage, ranging from a decent Harris Teeter brand coffee, to Costco’s Kirkland’s and most surprising to the free trade that Walmart and its warehouse cousin are selling. Consumer Reports announced in its March issue the results of its coffee testing and the original private brand coffee Eight O’clock 100% Colombian took the top prize. Eight O’clock Coffee 100% Colombian ($6.28 a pound), won consumer Report’s “Best Combination of Taste and Price.” Testers raved that the coffee possesses “a complex blend of earthy and fruity, with a bright, pleasing sourness.” Most surprising of the 19 ground coffees tested Starbucks Coffee Colombia ($11.53 per pound) didn’t even place.

But wait a minute Eight O’Clock isn’t a private brand, is it?

Eight O’Clock Coffee was introduced by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) in 1919. By the late Eight O’clock coffee had gained over a quarter of the U.S. market share. In 1979 A&P licensed its division Compass Foods, Inc. to sell Eight O’clock coffee to other retailers including competing grocers. In 2003 they agreed to sell its Eight O’clock coffee division for at least $107.5 million to Gryphon Investors. So now 150 years later Eight O’clock Coffee the one time Private Brand is celebrating its anniversary redesign. But, they’re letting their customers pick the final design. If you read this blog often you have seen articles on Raley’s using similar tactics with their marketing. So check out their website and vote for the one you like, and you could WIN $5,000 in groceries.
The real question here is not whether Eight O’Clock is a Private Brand but whether we are building brands that are truly assets and could one day sell for $100 million dollars?


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.