Target’s Market Pantry private brand has become the go-to for busy guests and their families. It’s got just about every food product found on a grocery list, with trustworthy ingredients and affordable prices.

In the 15 years since it first landed on Target shelves, Market Pantry has grown into Target’s largest food private brand, and one of our 10 private brands that bring in $1 billion or more in annual sales. But two years ago, when our teams asked guests what they thought of the brand’s packaging, their answer was a bit … ho-hum.

“Turns out, guests loved Market Pantry’s great taste, quality and low prices, but they thought the packaging designs fell a little flat,” says Amanda Irish, vice president merchandise manager, Owned Brands. “Target’s known for great design, but the current, generic look and feel of Market Pantry just wasn’t reflecting that.”

Original Design and 2012 Redesign

Customers described the 2012 redesign as “basic,” “generic” and “plain jane”. The revelation was a lightbulb moment for the team—they realized that reinventing the brand with a modern upgrade could make things a lot more inspiring. So a team of designers, merchants, engineers and marketers set to work giving the brand’s signature packaging a makeover. The goal was to create a new look that guests felt proud to showcase in their kitchens and lunchboxes. But how to make the 1,900+ products across 100 different categories stand out, while also hanging together visually as a brand?

MP-icecream-beforeafterThe answer was to listen to our guests, because they had some pretty solid ideas. For example: They told us that images of the foods on packages are really important when deciding what to buy, and the Market Pantry product photos weren’t as delicious-looking as they could be. (“You can’t tell how it tastes from looking at this package,” said one guest.) And consistency was key—they looked for a brand’s color scheme and trusted logo displayed prominently on packages to help them pick it out on the shelves.

It was also important to take different kinds of foods and their packaging needs into consideration. With so many types of packages to consider—boxes, tubs, bottles, bags—the brand’s visuals would need to be versatile. That meant building a far more expansive creative tool kit than what currently existed.

MP-fruitsnacks-beforeafterUltimately, the team decided on a bolder, more joyful look for the new packaging. They incorporated bright colors against a consistent red and white base, and varied background patterns that can be customized to fit packages of all sizes and shapes. They also used fresh, crisp photography and more expressive fonts. And guests told us they love the custom recipes we put on each package from the culinary experts in Target’s Test Kitchen—so those aren’t going anywhere.

“The new Market Pantry packaging allows us to communicate better with our guest through design,” says Amanda. “Not only is it more attractive, it gives guests easier access to the information that’s most important to them.” The results? Safe to say these products really pop.

The early pictures of the redesign present a brand that begins to live up to Targets promise, interestingly despite the fact that it is still a traditional NBE private brand it feels fashionable. It combines the best aspects of unified brand design with the ability to customize by product and category, which makes the design feel well thought and special.

I am excited to see the new design expand into the store and reveal itself on shelf. That is the true test. Stay Tuned.

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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.