This months issue of the trade magazine Food Processing features the Private Brand focused story “Private Label Packaging Playing an Essential Role in Retailer Brand Strategies” and takes a look at how retailers and manufacturers and are partnering to create innovative ideas. The article also includes quotes from an interview they conducted with our very own Christopher Durham.
Retailers continue to refine their private label strategies, with packaging playing an essential role. The latest package designs put the “brand” in store brands, with smart looks that convey differentiated quality. And in some cases, the packaging also offers environmental benefits.
Changes in the retail environment, supply chain and consumer preferences have paved the way for today’s private label designs. “From a packaging standpoint, consolidation on the manufacturing side, coupled with consolidation on the retail side, has given an opportunity to innovate more and be more strategic,” says Todd Maute, partner at branding firm CBX, New York.
Rather than mimicking the packaging of national brand owners, “Retailers [are] partnering with manufacturers to innovate and create unique and differentiated items and trying to be first to market versus second or third,” Maute adds. That “has a significant impact on the strategic value of the package.”
The Simply Balanced brand from Minneapolis-based Target Corp. illustrates the shift. This new, healthier-for-you store brand launched in June 2013 and replaces the retailer’s Archer Farms Simply Balanced and Archer Farms Organic private labels. The new brand includes beverages as well as grocery items.
Target is “strategically creating brands and unique package designs based off of what the consumer’s expectation is in that marketplace. I call that a ‘control brand’ strategy — individual control brands that when created and designed and packaged are really there to support what they want that bull’s-eye to mean in the customer’s mind,” Maute says, referring to the red bull’s-eye logo that appears in Target’s advertising and stores—but not on its private-label packaging.
Christopher Durham, president and chief strategist at My Private Brand, Omaha, Neb., notes the innovative graphics Target chose for its Simply Balanced packaging.
“It’s a very clean line, it’s very simple,” Durham says. “The design certainly is a bit more whimsical or playful than we’ve seen in natural and organic private brand design … over the last few years, [which has] nothing fun about it.” He explains that most natural and organic packaging, private label and otherwise, tends to “lean on the ingredients and the seriousness of everything they’re doing.”
In contrast, Durham says, the Simply Balanced package design is “fun” and seems designed to “appeal to ‘her,’ our shopper that’s … trying to take better care of her family. To me, that comes to life in the packaging. Even the photography is less serious. Look at how that brand is positioned, Simply Balanced, it’s very straightforward and direct and makes it easier for ‘her.’”