Differentiating with private brands: Following the trends from concept to execution

September 28, 2017

Own Brands Now | September 28, 2017 – Retailers and brands often find themselves faced with the question of whether a particular trend has lasting potential that’s worth investing in or is simply a fad that may be gone by tomorrow. But to stay competitive in today’s environment, it’s no longer possible to ignore trends and rely on “old standbys.” It’s especially true for a retailer’s private brands, which consumers are increasingly looking to for differentiation.

Retailers can balance the risks versus the rewards of innovating to build on a trend by understanding their shoppers and what drives them to make their purchasing decisions. These factors must be considered at every point in the development process — from concept, to execution, to branding.

Take the growing trend of global cuisine, for example. International flavors and new styles of cooking are popping up in restaurants everywhere, and many shoppers are getting in on the action at home through meal kits, spice blends and snacks from around the globe. This presents an opportunity for private brands to become innovative leaders by developing unique products that feed shoppers’ desire for experimentation.

However, it’s not enough to take the “if you build it, they will come” approach. Retailers must first carefully consider the categories that make the most sense to innovate in for their consumers. For many traditional grocers, cooking sauces and marinades provide the ideal opportunity to introduce shoppers to new flavors. This taps into shoppers’ growing demand for convenience. Sauces and marinades are easy to use and they make meal prep simpler — they can be added to proteins, vegetables or rice to prepare a meal without having to cook everything from scratch.

Health-and-wellness is another key purchase driver that retailers can capitalize on in their approach to innovation. The demand for more “natural” products with simpler ingredients is greater than ever. Infusing marinades and sauces with so-called superfoods or spices with health-related properties can offer consumers a way to create better-for-you meals that also let them experience new flavors and cuisines.

Packaging format and design are also important considerations in developing a successful product. Retailers should consider flexible packaging and smaller serving sizes. Both allow for superior freshness protection and reduce food waste — something shoppers are also looking for today. Single-use tear-and dispense pouches could also be a large area of opportunity to encourage trial.

On-shelf marketing — in the form of serving ideas and recipes highlighted adjacent to products — can also encourage trial and adoption. Playing up the idea of versatility — such as the ability to use marinades for dipping or pasta sauces that are suitable for other dishes such as red meat, poultry and seafood — adds value to a product and reduces concerns about food waste. Cross-merchandising placement with perimeter departments can also be very successful.

Developing a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to innovation in private brand can help ensure companies stay on the leading edge of trends that ultimately pay off.

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