Price Chopper Engages Students With Private Brand

The Saratoga Springs, NY daily The Saratogian published this fascinating story about a local middle school taste testing national brands against Price Chopper Private Brands.  I have seen many variations on this story but this response to a student letter sent to Price Chopper is genius. By sending a well spoken representative to the school Price Chopper engaged a class of influencers/ potential customers and sampled their Private Brand products. Very nice!

“Mind over matter” was the lesson of the day in English teacher Nicole Karas’ classroom at Maple Avenue Middle School.
About 130 eighth-grade students who cycled through her classroom Wednesday conducted official taste-tests that pitted Price Chopper store-brand snacks against their name-brand equivalents, such as Nabisco, Betty Crocker, Welch’s and Kellogg’s.
The day-long event, the first of its kind at the school, began as a lesson on writing business letters to food companies, Karas said. A class letter to Price Chopper resulted in a volunteer visit from supermarket representatives who conducted tests — “blind” because students compared brand “A” with brand “B” for six different products — then revealed which was store-brand and which was name-brand.
“You’re helping make decisions about the type of food you choose and buy. You have power, you have influence, so use it,” Karas told one class of 25 students, who spent the period sipping white grape juice and munching brownies, potato chips, cereal, applesauce and chocolate chip cookies to determine which brand they liked better and why.
Jane Seymour-Smith, a quality assurance manager for Price Chopper, said the taste-tests students performed were similar to the ones done at the supermarket’s corporate office in Schenectady, where decisions about what products ultimately hit the shelves are made. She said the plan is to tally the feedback from the students and share it with corporate officials.
“The goal is for Price Chopper brands to be equivalent or better than national brands,” Seymour-Smith said. “If anything is not coming out 50 percent or more, we’ll discuss it with our product partners.”
Read the entire story.

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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.