From IGA to Food Lion, retailers use private brands as community ambassadors to help worthy causes throughout the year. In this edition of PLMALive! I take a look at the competitive advantage created by retailers leveraging their private brands to give back looks at the bond connecting private label and charity.

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Store Brands Give Back

Today’s retailers have discovered the power of connecting their brands to their charitable concerns. The corresponding connections create distinct and ownable connections to the causes they champion and communities they serve.

Food Lion Feeds Apples frontSalisbury, North Carolina based Food Lion has long leveraged its private brands as a way to give back to its community through its annual Food Lion Feeds “Holidays Without Hunger” campaign. Through the campaign, customers can purchase and donate a specially-marked Private Brand box of food. Food boxes are then donated directly to a local hunger relief food bank or agency.

In 2014, the retailer took the program even further with the introduction of Food Lion Feeds private brand bagged apples. With the sale of each bag, Food Lion donated five meals to local food banks, in partnership with Feeding America. In 2015, the bagged apple campaign helped provide 1 million meals to feed families facing hunger in local communities across the grocer’s 10-state footprint.

IGA WWP2IGA recently announced that it has joined forces with Wounded Warrior Project. In 2015, IGA held its fifth-annual IGA Exclusive Brand donation initiative. During this national campaign the retailer featured IGA and Wounded Warrior Project cobranded products including WWP-branded IGA bottled spring and drinking water, hotdog and hamburger buns, and ice cream.

By fall of 2015, IGA had contributed close to $250,000, pushing IGA’s five-year contribution well over $1 million. To date, more than $970,000 has been donated to Wounded Warrior Project in the name of IGA retailers.

HyVee - One Step - Front-2In 2011, West Des Moines, Iowa based grocer Hy-Vee began the One Step private brand, which takes that commitment to health and wellness one step further, by funding projects locally and worldwide to help people be healthier. The mission of One Step is simple ¬ to offer customers a selection of private brand products that donates a portion of the proceeds to relevant, worthy causes. The program involves four products:

  • One Step Shredded Wheat Cereal, which helps those struggling with food insecurities.
  • One Step Russet Potatoes, to help fund grants that are awarded each year to support community gardens.
  • One Step Bottled Water has led to the completion of 13 clean water projects, which provide clean drinking water to villages in countries including Haiti, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.
  • And, thanks to the sales of One Step Paper Towels, 14,000 trees were planted in the flood-damaged Wilson Island State Recreation area near Council Bluffs, Iowa.

treasure & BonsJust in case you think it’s only grocers, in the summer of 2014, premium department store Nordstrom announced the launch of the retailer’s first-ever private brand with a charitable “give-back” twist: Treasure & Bond.

Drawing from classic wardrobe staples – think washed denim, soft plaid shirts, tees and moto jackets – Treasure & Bond offers customers an updated, lived-in and vintage feel. 5% of net profits of the brand are contributed to nonprofits that work to empower women and girls.

Treasure & Bond enabled Nordstrom to give almost $440,000 combined to Girls on the Run and the brand’s first nonprofit partner, Girls Inc. In 2016, Treasure & Bond will support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Today’s best-in-class private brand retailers have discovered that giving back not only helps their community, it helps their bottom line. Leveraging private brands as the vehicle to give back is both compassionate and differentiating.

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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.