Michael’s Embellishing Private Brand One Jewel at a Time

Recollections frontThis guest post comes from frequent contributor Kim Justen – she is a veteran writer and communications consultant who has worked with companies like Sara Lee, Hanes and most recently Lowe’s Home Improvement where she brought their Private Brands to life by creating brand differentiation through packaging voice. Watch for more from Kim.

Letting me loose in Michaels is like letting a chocoholic loose in a Hershey’s factory. I have delusions of grandeur and the artistic skill of a kindergartner. Earlier this week I had to brave the temptations and pick up some supplies for a school project, and for once I didn’t have a grumpy teenager in tow, so I had time to actually walk the store.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found at the arts and crafts store. While it’s well known that grocery dominates the Private Brand conversation, Michaels Stores, Inc., is one of the many non-grocery retailers successfully developing and marketing innovative Private Brand portfolios and building strong customer relationships in the process.

Michaels has eleven private brands in their portfolio, and each appears to be carefully positioned to effectively compete and potentially win. An area where you’ll find great packaging is in Paper Crafting category. Recollections, Michael’s private brand offering in the category, has a name that ties into the memory-keeping of the Scrapbooking category. Add to that the timeless brown and cream color scheme and you’ve got a brand that is credible, relevant and fits the category perfectly, with innovative products at a great price. Unique elements like the scalloped-edge color band on paper punch packaging ties it all together and gives crafters a reason to chose Michaels.

Recollections 1Michaels has gone the extra mile with the consumer by providing solutions to problems they didn’t know they had. The Bling on a Roll product line is just one example of Michaels meeting crafters’ needs. Any scrapbooker will tell you applying individual embellishments to a page is time consuming and often frustrating. Bling on a Roll provides embellishments on clear tape, allowing you to apply a row of them in seconds.

Other unique items in the category are the traditional and seasonal paper pads, loaded with color-themed papers that play well together. Many of the designs featured are created by an in-house creative team and are exclusive to Michaels, guaranteeing product not seen at the competition.

Michaels is just one of the many unsung heroes in Private Brand, flying below the grocery-focused media radar, but still building a strong portfolio worth a second look. In their 2011 fiscal year, Private Brands made up 44% of Michaels net sales at their over 1,100 stores. These examples, in just this one Private Brand, showcase how Michaels is driving Private Brand product development within the arts and crafts category.