This guest post comes from David Hayslette, the Director of Retail Excellence at MeadWestvaco. As Private Brand continues to grow and evolve, it is essential that packaging be on par with its national brand competitors. Private brand packaging quality should not be sacrificed for the sake of short-term gains. However, this level of packaging is simply the cost of entry for NBE. Private Brands packaging innovation can and should be the point of differentiation.
Over the last few years, Private Brands have increasingly demonstrated a willingness to invest in improving the quality of products in order to compete with national brands. So, shouldn’t packaging get equal consideration? Product investment returns can go unrealized when the packaging doesn’t match the quality of the national brand competitor. How many shoppers are still unwilling to try a private brand product because the packaging looks and feels inferior?
Because multiple manufacturers supply private brand products, packaging quality varies widely. To ensure consistency across categories, it’s important to specify materials and not just the artwork. Graphics are important but so are the canvas they’re printed on. So, you’ve invested in high quality artwork that carries the brand message and conveys value. Without a specification of the material, the actual appearance of the finished package will vary greatly. Without quality material, graphics can appear dull and lifeless. Packages can be crushed and bent because of cheap, inferior materials, destroying shelf appeal.
In a study commissioned by Mead Westvaco/Perception Research Services, we learned that 75% of shoppers will push a damaged package to the side in search of an undamaged one. Up to 55% will leave the brand and 36% will buy another brand. 29% of the most brand loyal shoppers will question product quality when packages are even slightly damaged. Damaged packages are a result of poor design, construction and or abuses during the distribution process that the packaging simply can’t handle.
Innovations in packaging should be driven by shopper insights. This shopper-driven innovation can lead to new, designs that increase usage occasions and category penetration. Distinctive designs can set apart a private brand from their national brand competitors. Functional improvements such as resealable openings and portion control features can set the pace for category innovation when the national brands are hesitant to change. Engineered packaging designs can further enhance private brand profitability by driving down activity-based costs such as labor, energy, distribution and unsaleables while increasing sales velocity. Finally, the sustainability profile of private brand packaging can be dramatically improved with a thoughtful, deliberate approach.
In the end, when packaging is viewed as an integral part of the brand experience, equal in importance to the product itself, private brands will have their best success on the shelf.
David Hayslette is Director of Retail Excellence at MeadWestvaco, a $7 billion packaging solutions provider and is solely focused on supporting the private brand community with innovative, cost saving and sustainable packaging solutions.