Where Should Brands Focus in the War with Private Label?

Author: Jarrod Davis

brand versus private label“Fewer and fewer online searches contain brand names, because most shoppers no longer believe brand names equate to quality.” That’s how Jessica Hendrix, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X, began a very interesting segment on a recent episode of Focus on Suppliers.

In the game of big brand versus private label, many analysts and marketing firms point to the predictable solution: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! While established brands are finding success in providing private label options for retailers, Hendrix makes the case for brands to maintain their market share by sharpening their marketing focus.

“How can the often higher-priced brand name products win?” She explains, “The answer is at the shelf; both physical and digital.”

The Brand and the Upper-Hand

Today’s product lines that are described as “private label, store brand, generic” no longer brand versus private labelcarry the taboo of years ago. It’s been well researched that today’s shoppers seek out non-branded products that provide alternatives more aligned to their personal values. Given this interest, how does the large brand stay relevant?

Hendrix and her team at Saatchi & Saatchi X keep tabs on the shopping and marketing trends. Though private label is popular, she illustrates where big brands still dominate in customer appeal.

“Shoppers believe that private label products are as good as their well-know counterparts,” she continues. “However, that mindset is shattered when innovation is brought into the conversation.

“When it comes to delivering the speed of innovation to shoppers, name-brand products are light years ahead in the race. Private label brands thrive off of low prices, which would be difficult to maintain with constant innovation.”

Keeping the Customer Informed

brand versus private labelHow does your customer know you dominate with innovation? They don’t unless you tell them! As with anything in retail, communication is key. Hendrix concludes with tips on letting the customer know how you’re working to improve your products.

“It’s important to use your shelf space to inform shoppers about what your brand is doing,” she advises. “While packaging can certainly do some of the heavy lifting for you, the best approach is to work with someone who knows how to get the word out to shoppers that sometimes higher prices really do mean a better product.”

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