The Miami Herald featured this interesting if abbreviated overview of Private Brand history, which focuses on Albertsons and Publix.
It’s a perfect time for new ideas
This economic recession is helping create a new marketing environment. It’s happening at supermarket chains and in our homes with the groceries we buy.
Here’s the gist: Consumers on average spend 57 cents of every dollar for basic necessities. Not much money is left over for extras. Many have been forced to make lifestyle adjustments, cut excess and reduce high living costs. When grocery shopping, they’re trading away from big-name national brands to store-brands. Most are pleasantly surprised to find the quality they desire. Big-name marketers beware.
It all started in the mid-1970s when Al Williams, a private label product lines manager at Albertsons in Boise Idaho, started his own business, Keynote Marketing. Using small contract manufacturers Williams created 20 generic products with plain white labels. His generics gave the consumer lower prices; retailers earned a better profit. Keynote Marketing successfully introduced generics to several grocery chains. Then major grocery chains created their own, many with packaging mimicking the market leader.
By the early 1980s, during a sharp economic downturn, consumers focused more on price than brand loyalty. The grocery chain’s winning message: Our generic product is just as good as this big-name national brand, but cheaper. But consumers had doubts.
It was Tim Cox, director of Publix Super Markets’ in-house creative-service department, which created another breakthrough in 2005. Publix would use its own name and perception to create a successful brand; a brand people relate to and consider as high quality. Products would have their own look: clean, clever — with lots of white space and simple, crisp typography.