A Conversation with Sharon Vinderine: PTPA

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Sharon Vinderine about their Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal which I have noticed making an appearance on private brand products from Walgreens to Aldi.

Thank you for taking a few moments to talk to me.

CD: Tell me about your path to founding PTPA?

SV: As a new mom, I struggled when it came to determining what types of products would be ideal for my family. The only means I felt I could truly trust were the endorsements of my peers.  It was unreasonable to expect that I could reach out to a friend for each product category in which I was considering making a purchase. I needed an “at a glance” way to determine if a product stood up to its promise in terms of value and functionality. As a serial entrepreneur, I took the next logical step and the result was the founding of our certification, Parent Tested Parent Approved.

CD: Tell me more about PTPA what makes it different?

SV: The Parent Tested Parent Approved certification is one of the most highly regarded and sought-after consumer endorsements in North America.  It is not a popularity contest, and it is not an editorially biased award. When used in association with a product, it is instant credibility at a glance for the consumer. That is what makes it incredibly powerful.

Authenticity is the only currency that matters, and that comes from the assurance that other moms have experienced a product personally and found that it met or exceeded their expectations. PTPA’s Seal of Approval conveys this all at a single glance.

CD: Would all of this be possible without technology and social media?

SV: Our roots are actually in Broadcast and that’s where we saw the largest growth in our consumer audience and client base. I’ve had the opportunity to highlight our award recipients on over 200 television shows across North America including Steve Harvey, Rachael Ray & MSNBC. So, while social media has amplified our messaging, our message truly resonates on-pack and through the digital shelf.

CD: Talk to me about word of mouth and peer recommendations, what should readers in the private brand industry know?

Word of mouth and peer recommendations from verified buyers is the most valuable currency that a brand can leverage.  Especially when it comes to millennials.  They don’t have the same pre-conceived notions as generations before them that private label equals low quality. In fact, they are not willing to pay more simply to buy a “National Brand” and their key purchasing considerations are price and quality.  While the retailer controls the price, PTPA is the tool for assuring quality.  When faced with two competing products, over 80% of consumers said that a product with the PTPA certification reinforced their confidence in the brand.

CD: We have run several of your announcements highlighting award-winning private brand products from Aldi and Walgreens. Aldi has used the PTPA seal in their commercials, on shelf, on pack and Walgreens has added banners and the seal to their package. How does the certification process work?

SV: Retailers or their manufacturers send us product samples either in final packaging or plain packaging if the product has not yet launched.  We then select a small sample size of members from our community that match the exact target demographic of the product.

Those members receive the product samples in exchange for their objective review through a secure form on our site. The questionnaires are both quantitative and qualitative and sentiment plays a large factor in determining whether the certification is granted.

If granted, the brand receives the survey results and are provided with a license for the certification that is renewable annually.

CD: What are the 4 things every private brand manager should know about today’s parents?

  1. Parents are not willing to pay the brand marketing tax which translates into a huge opportunity for private brand.
  2. Parents are not loyal to traditional manufacturer brands. When faced with an opportunity for a lower priced product of equal value, they will opt for the lower price.
  3. Hyper Personalization. With artificial intelligence now at our finger tips, consumers want offers customized to them based on their previous buying experience. They are comfortable with you using their buying patterns as long as it offers them discounts or custom experiences.
  4. Support their values. Create campaigns that demonstrate authenticity and a commitment to change in their local communities. Program’s like Aldi’s Smart Kids which promote kids being active and healthy are the perfect example of how a private brand can have a lasting impact.
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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.