Where Are The Heroes? The Future Of Signature Products

Presidents Choice CookieThe following is the next in a series of guest posts from the latest issue of Global Retail Brands and this is my contribution to the magazine. Throughout the week we will feature one article a day from the new publication – please take a few minutes and click-through to the site – read the entire article and see what the rest of the world is up to.

Where Are The Heroes? The Future Of Signature Products

Sometimes we have to look at our past to chart the future, and so let’s go back to 1988 at Loblaw, when the President’s Choice “Decadent” chocolate chip cookie launched. It was amazing in its marketing simplicity, and this is why it became the #1 selling cookie throughout Canada in less than a year. Simple and brilliant.

Perry SeelertBy / Perry Seelert

The category territory was intelligent too in that Dave Nichol intentionally targeted cookies (one of the highest volume categories) where own brands hadn’t proven themselves, and where Nabisco’s Chips Ahoy was a well entrenched, but a pretty marginal product experience.

The bold language at the time for the brand, let alone a retailer brand, “Decadent”, helped to get it noticed and give it some much needed hype, but it was the skilled twisting of product features that was the beauty of it all. The Decadent has more chocolate chips than Chips Ahoy, in fact 39% of the entire cookie, which was a blaring feature on the pack and embedded throughout the graphic language. It also was made with real creamery butter versus HFCS and cottonseed oils.

Note that the Decadent, one of the first signature retailer products in North America, wasn’t “premium”. A novel product twist, yes, artful brand language and positioning, yes, uncharted category territory, yes, but not “premium” in the way most retailers interpret it today.

The word “Premium” suffers from its imprecision, but many retailers interpret it as a tier today that signifies something gourmet or artisan. That is, in fact, how the largest grocer in North America, Kroger, has just repositioned its Private Selection brand, which expresses itself as “Gourmet and artisan food”, and “the finest culinary experience”. And while I feel this a viable brand positioning, I also think it is vulnerable to consumer interpretation as a little too precious, haughty even, unapproachable in its tone, and special occasion versus everyday. President’s Choice sought out the everyday ground as a reason for being.

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