Bland or Brand: Private Brand is Center Stage For Growth

DeanCrutchfieldThis is the first in a three part series from guest blogger, Dean Crutchfield. Dean is a New York-based brand consultant who has worked on major private brand programs for Tesco, Staples, Carter’s and, most recently, the creation of Target’s Up&Up brand.

Dean and I met through social media, and my wife and I have had the pleasure of spending time with him and his wife in New York City. So I am excited to feature his thoughts on Private Brand and branding. Enjoy.

Bland or Brand
Private Brand is center stage for growth
One of Three

By Dean Crutchfield
Misconduct by big brand names and shifting consumer behavior have changed the perceived value exchange between brands and consumers. In a rapidly changing market, how do you separate value from commodity, especially when the nature of competition has changed dramatically? Today, it’s about the power of fickle customers, suppliers, potential substitutes and the threat of new entrants. If you can’t build an advantage on what you sell, create a brand advantage on how you sell.

The focus for retailers is to differentiate their products and brands, but conflicting pressures to find growth in this de-leveraging recession have vitiated focus. By taking a sweeping glance across the media, you get a sense of the important issues:

  1. Attracting and retaining loyal customers
  2. Improving productivity
  3. Cutting costs
  4. Speed to market
  5. Increasing market share

Top-line growth is certainly a priority, but the second and third issues of improving productivity and cutting costs reflect the reality that businesses remain under immediate pressure to improve the bottom line. So what’s the best way forward?

Attracting and Retaining Loyal Customers
Great customer experience is good. Great customer experience that helps you make more money is better. And what really matters to your customers is how you engage with them through products, people, environments and communications.

In a time where consumers are trading down, pundits are employing phrases such as “austerity chic” and “luxury shame,” and the only businesses that seem to be enjoying this vituperative parsimony are McDonald’s and Walmart, what’s your best strategy for growth?

Further compounding the torment, consumers are bombarded with an array of choices 24/7, where winning ideas are replicated and brought to market in a matter of weeks by nimble competitors. And winners are more focused on how to move out of a competitive environment to a differentiated one.

Therefore, differentiation and innovation are essential, and much of this can be driven and created by a reallocation of resources to innovative operational models, Private Brands, or both. The challenge is how to successfully develop and facilitate their implementation to provide a sustainable, uncopyable, competitive advantage in the market that results in creating a unique position for the retailer with high visibility, boldness, clarity, consistency and customer appeal.

That requires developing a strategy — driven by improved cost-effectiveness and streamlining of new product development — that has appropriateness to the product and target customer, harmonization with advertising, and promotions and POS that can ultimately generate increased brand equity.

Dean Crutchfield is a New York-based brand consultant who has worked on major private label programs for Tesco, Staples, Carter’s and most recently the creation of Target’s Up&Up brand.

Connect with Dean: Blog: Punch and KissTwitterLinkedIn

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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.