Hy-Vee Tests Its Private Brands

This past week West Des Moines, Iowa based grocer Hy-Vee posted this story on their website that verifys the classic “compare and save” propostion of their national brand equivalent Private Brand products.

Hy-Vee Private Brands Pass The Test
You say “canned tomato”; she says “canned tomato.”

But when you line up Hy-Vee Private Brand tomatoes next to canned tomatoes from Dahl’s and Fareway or the national Hunt’s brand, who comes out on top?

On Wednesday, quality assurance professionals from Topco Associates, a privately held company that leverages the buying power of its members, performed their annual shopping audit at the Hy-Vee corporate office.

Side by side, they lined up national brands, Hy-Vee brands and local competitors’ private-label brands of everything from sliced and shredded cheese, to canned fruits and vegetables, to dog food and diapers. They took the products out of their packages and laid everything out to show corporate office employees how Hy-Vee products stack up.

“We always tell customers, ‘Why pay more for an equal product?” says Shelley Haberkorn, Hy-Vee assistant vice president of purchasing projects. “Historically, Hy-Vee brand products have always scored better than comparable private-label items. Today we scored well against the national brands as well.”

To adequately compare products, each one is broken down, raisins separated from the bran cereal or mixed nuts separated into specific nut categories. The products are then scored by comparing the quality of the private brand to the national brand. For example, Hy-Vee’s canned tomatoes were consistently peeled, they kept their shape, there were hardly any visible seeds and the color was a perfect “tomato red.” The Hunt’s tomatoes, on the other hand, were broken apart and stringy, giving the Hy-Vee label an “above first (brand name)” score.

The process ensures Hy-Vee-brand products meet Hy-Vee’s high standards.

“It’s always nice to beat the brand names,” says John Reynolds, manager of quality assurance for Topco. “But as long as we match them, it’s a win as far as I’m concerned.”

So when they say “canned tomato,” we say “Hy-Vee.”

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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.