Walmart - Price First - Circular 2Just one day after the Wall Street Journal reported the elimination of the Wild Oats organic brand at Walmart Supermarket News is reporting that the neo-generic brand Price First is also being phased out.

The news brings to mind my original article and commentary “breaking” the news in November 2013, Walmart Tests Neo-Generic\Basic Private Brand: Price First.

While I applaud Walmart finally acknowledging the numerous unbranded and control label SKUs in grocery as private label products and creating a brand to tie them together – the 1970’s flashback design is at best disappointing, but at its worst it could set the industry back twenty years.

With Lucky Duck, Prima Della, Marketside, Pure Balance, You Zone, Onn and Backyard Grill, Walmart has demonstrated their ability to create engaging well-positioned and well-designed brands. This simply does not live up to those standards.

The introduction of Price First into the Walmart Private Brand Portfolio raises a few questions.

  • How will customers react to a new private label that makes no apologies for low quality products?
  • Will customers understand the difference between the two descriptively named brands Great Value and Price First?
  • How will the introduction of Price First impact the penetration of private label in grocery?
  • Is Walmart creating labels or building and managing BRANDS?

Looking back the questions still seem relevant, combined with the announcement of the demise of Wild Oats I can only hope that they are embarking on a dramatic rethink of their entire private brand portfolio. Every brand, in every department should be reevaluated and optimized or eliminated. One cohesive private brand portfolio should be created that cross all categories and leverages each brand to its fullest extent.

Walmart has always placed private brand second in line to both to the national brands and the Walmart retail brand. Not only in resources and attention, but also in quality and delivery.

For this reason, the Walmart private brand portfolio fails to deliver the retailer’s the Walmart brand promise, and does not create a satisfying experience for customers. They are simply labels placed on products to hit a price point.

We believe you can do much better: create genuine brands that live beyond the shelf and deliver the full promise of Walmart.

From While I’m Here to Why I’m Here
Portfolio management and new brand creation only makes sense if it’s conducted with a deep understanding of how customers shop the store and use the products as well as the different roles that Private Brand can serve within the portfolio. Each brand within the ideal Walmart Private Brand portfolio can serve a specific business role and/or fill a specific customer need.

Retailers often intend to create these brand roles, but due to time and resource constraints, they typically end up with a portfolio architecture that reflects the merchandising organization or the competitor more than it does consumer need.

Private Brands with well-defined roles and unique offers are capable of driving real customer loyalty, creating relevant brand propositions across multiple departments and categories and effectively driving trips to the store as well as adding purchases while in store.

Fewer, Bigger Better Brands
We start with the belief that there are too may brands in the world and not enough good ones. Walmart owns a broad and fragmented Private Brand portfolio that is complex to manage but not concentrated and impactful.

The Walmart Private Brand portfolio is a collection of brand assets that form one brand ecosystem that must work together to reinforce and build Walmart. We recommend setting a high bar for creating or maintaining Private Brands. Your brands must:

  • Deliver on corporate strategic priorities
  • Meet sales, penetration and turn expectations
  • Fulfill unique customer needs
  • Demonstrate a compelling reason why an existing brand can
    not do the same job

Ultimately a stronger portfolio of strategic Private Brands will increase your right to WIN, create customer loyalty and generate increased growth.

(Reach out, we will help you WIN!)

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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.