No Name Brand Retro Test Drive.

On several occasions I have written about Loblaw’s retro redesign of their value Private Brand “No Name.”Recently the Interbrand operated website Brand Channel has published this interesting piece on the change.

no name who?

by Reneé Alexander
nonamecropEven though it’s been on grocery store shelves for three decades, Loblaw Companies Ltd. is confident its no name brand is nowhere near its expiry date.

The Toronto-based grocery giant recently relaunched the iconic brand and its unmistakeable plain black printing on yellow packaging. Company officials say the move was made to coincide with no name’s 30th birthday, and refocusing on a no-frills value brand at a time when the economy is in freefall is obviously prudent.

Three hundred products were repackaged during the first six weeks of the year-items such as bathroom tissue, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, ketchup and canned tomato sauce-and another 2,600, including pet food, paper plates and cereals, will be recast in the old-is-new-again packaging throughout the rest of 2009. (When no name was first born, it had just 16 products.)

“Imagine going down a grocery aisle. There are so many colours. You’ll be able to spot no name almost immediately,” says David Primorac, Loblaw’s senior director of public relations. “We chose products that would be best suited to the economic conditions. We wanted to start with pantry items, everyday items.”

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This article from the Canadian newspaper National Post takes a look at some of the No Name brand products and in many cases they are reviewed favorably.

There’s no shame in No Name

… especially in this economy. But which of the budget products are really worth every penny?

We’ve all seen the commercial (I am looking for it to post) where Galen Weston Jr. stands between two packed shopping carts – one, full of popular name-brand products, the other, Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s value line of No Name products. The only difference, claims G2, “is the price,” with the No Name savings amounting to a healthy 20% (that figure based on average prices from May 25 to Nov. 20, 2008, in 922 of Loblaw supermarkets in Canada. Local savings will vary).

Originally introduced with just 16 products in 1978 (the start of the energy crisis, no?), No Name now offers more than 2,600 products ranging from paper towels to coffee, designed to bring quality to Canadian families at a fair price. Sure there’s the price – and the perceived stigma that comes with loading your basket with the telltale yellow and black packaging. But what of the taste?

It’s time for a good old-fashioned No Name-brand test drive, whereby I sample a range of randomly selected products and compare them to nothing other than themselves. The underlying question being, if they’re cheaper and taste great, why wouldn’t I buy them?

No Name Ripple Cut Potato Chips

Salty, not too greasy, and satisfyingly crunchy without showing off, they remind me of a simpler time, before chips went Xtreme. Plus, with just three ingredients: Potatoes, vegetable oil and salt, there are no big surprises. In fact, they’re almost calling out for dip (could there be some No Name sour cream and onion soup mix in my future?)

Buy it?

When I think of potato chips, these are what I think of. They taste like coming home.

No Name Frozen Meat Lasagna

Maybe it was because we had filled up on candy and a PC Mediterranean Hors D’oeuvre Collection while playing a rousing game of Scrabble, but once the group dug into this hot mess – too many noodles, not enough sauce or cheese, suspect granules of meat – everyone took one bite and pushed it aside. A complete failure. It tasted pre-chewed.

Buy it?

Only if I ever get dentures.

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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.