Strategies to Increase Your Private Label Sales in 2021
Whether it’s in-store, e-commerce, of affiliate, the landscape hasn’t changed more than it did recently to the Covid-19 pandemic and private label brands.
With customers changing how they shopped, it seemed no one was safe from the effects. From restaurants to shops, we’ve all heard the word “pivot” more than we’d like and had to reimagine product strategy.
And no one was safe. Gummy bears and candy bars (as well as other impulse items) suffered, with the lack of checkout aisles and grabby children in the cart.
And while services like Instacart and Shipt don’t seem to be going anywhere soon, all the brands are thinking about “what’s next.” (And if you’re not, you should be!) Regardless, the strategy for increasing sales to consumer is at an all-time high for everyone.
Since 2004, Quantum has been working with brands in over 65+ categories, helping navigate the marketplace with their own brand, products, and portfolios. In helping over 150+ brands, we’ve noticed several indicators and patterns to address when looking at brand strategy. One of the most important ones are the private label brands themselves.
One of the biggest opportunities I ask retailers is about their own products, and if they’re creating a private label brands portfolio. Typically, the answer is no–you guessed it—when it should be “yes.”
WHAT IS A PRIVATE LABEL BRAND?
If you’re not familiar, private label brands (PLBs) are brands that are labeled for you, with your own brand on it. Instead of selling Starbucks Coffee, Costco’s sells their own brand, Kirkland Signature coffee with the stamp, “Custom roasted by Starbucks.” So it’s Starbucks, but labeled for them, get it?
In fact, Kirkland repacks their very own version of products at a lower price using name brands we all know. Brand include JellyBelly®, Duracell®, Grey Goose®, Huggies, and Reynolds Wrap®—just to name a few. You wouldn’t know it either. They all look and feel like Costco’s flagship brand. Only if you did some digging would you know if these are name-brand products that are private labelled or not. That’s how brands create value, by offering value, addressing perception, and providing products that fit those gaps.
Believe it or not, it’s not just big-box stores that are in the PLB game either. Aldi, Lidl, and other grocery discounters are on the march, capturing their impact with their own manufactured private label brands in every aisle. In fact, private label brands are growing 4x faster than national brands, putting the average sale at almost 25%. So, every one out of four products purchased is a private label brand. That means that customers are so used to (and enjoy) private brands, that they’re purchasing them 1/4 of the time.
WHERE DO I START WITH OUR OWN LABELS?
Navigating the private label space can feel daunting.
The answer is not to contact the manufacturer first without a plan. Most approach them without a brand whatsoever. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Don’t just slap your logo on a stock photo, this is not how it’s done.
Let’s help you avoid this nightmare by talking about some basics, ensuring you and your private label brands are off the right start.
#4.) Optimize, Optimize, Optimize.
When it comes to your own portfolio of products, you first need to make sure you’re maintaining “a good house.” By this, I mean, evaluating your current products, sales, and shelf space and optimize, optimize, optimize. There’s a reason I can’t find my favorite non-dairy, white chocolate creamer at the smaller grocery nearby, it’s not a popular flavor. At the larger store, it’s always there.
While this seems like a no-brainer, most brands aren’t optimizing their current SKUs, checking them quarterly, nor even assessing their portfolios. If you’re not assessing your retail space and optimizing these products first, you’re not ready for your own private label brand.
So, start there.
#3.) HAVE a STRATEGY
If you do have your own PLBs, you’ll want to ensure you have a strategy for your top categories and work downward. This is a process of simply inventory, and evaluating what you have, what you don’t, and where the top sellers are. And that’s where you’re start. Your top sellers, and the ones that make the most sense.
No one will ever know that you’re creating kitty litter, dog food, coffee, toilet paper, and other products in any specific order. Having multiple in-house brands allows you to put the ones that make the most sense in each category. A “private selection” chocolate makes sense, but perhaps not toilet paper. Make sure each product fits in the right private label, providing the best value, and brand promise.
In a recent rebrand for a client, we created both a canned and single serve tuna fish products, and later, a premium chocolate bar. What are the odds? Very high when the data shows the path to start.
#2.) Capture Both Premium and Economy
Providing your own PLB is an exceptional way to provide the same value to the customer at a lower cost. But what about more economical options?
When provided the same product, shoppers will often choose the economy choice, provided the ability to save even more. Kroger’s Psst and Walmart’s Great Value brands each offer cheaper options for name-brand products. This helps capture on-shelf sales for basics on items where volume and margins are the name of the game.
1.) Make Your Brand Distinctive.
In working with brands, the #1 area that private labels miss out on is their Distinctive Brand Assets. If you’re new to Quantum, or Brand Science, you may not know the secret of how brands truly grow. So let’s quickly recap.
HOW BRANDS WORK.
The number one scientific way to grow your brand is through increasing mental availability through highly distinct and highly famous and memorable brand assets. The more memorable, distinct brand assets you have, the more distinct memories you create for your shoppers.
Like the movie Inception meets Total Recall, you need unique memories planted in the customers’ brain. And you need ones that are unique to you. The more distinct sensory associations a brand has, the more mental availability you have. Every marketing opportunity is meant to maintain or advance mental and physical availability, nothing more, nothing less.
On average, most brands only have 2-4 assets; their brandmark, color, tagline, and one distinctive font used for the wordmark itself.
While your brand may be magnificent, if there are 2-3 distinctive qualities driving their memory, its simply not enough to be memorable.
You need a variety of sensory assets that can be easily remembered, and can be intuitively purchased on the next trip. Remember, distracted customers on autopilot is what we want.
You want repeat-customers.
You want a memorable brand.
The secret is to have as many distinctive brand assets as possible.
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BRANDS HAVE THIS
In fact, the most successful companies and brands on the shelf have 25-35 distinctive brand assets. So, if you’re going to launch a private label, you simply can’t just throw a new name on there and hope it sells. You need Brand Science to drive the mental availability.
You’ll need an arsenal of sensory assets such as word, color, type, shape, and story. These elements drive visual interest, make them notice it on the shelf, and distract them from their typical purchase, and capture their attention.
We helped a client increase their sales 300% consistently first a price comparison and then a premium brand. Overall, they achieved 450% in the category sales when both their premium and economy private label product was offered. Once created, they removed other options off the shelf, creating higher sales for their own brands. Brilliant. Who wouldn’t want to do this?
Private Labels brands are on the rise, and for good reason. With increasing customer loyalty and sales, they’re the key to a successful, growing, and profitable product portfolio.
PLBs are one of the secret ingredients to a successful retail brand’s profitability, creating sales in both the premium, comparison, and economy levels.
The most successful brands are the ones that consistently optimize their product portfolio, track their product sales, and identify category leaders and key categories.
Driving success in your private labels comes from understanding your portfolio and creating multiple brands that can house your own promise. This includes premium, economy, and name-brand products. This ensures your customers not only have options, but feel confident buying from you, no matter what.
Lastly, if you’re looking to truly knock it out of the park with a home run, each of your brands should have as many Distinctive Brand Assets as possible.
Equipped with highly-famous and distinctive assets in each sensory category, your brand is more able to create distinctive memories. This is what help keep you top-of-mind, and primed to sell. High mental and physical availability is the #1 key to a brand that grows and sells.
SO WAIT? WHAT ABOUT ME?
If you’re piqued by all this private label stuff, we’re here for you.
Maybe you don’t have 25-30 Distinctive Brand Assets, or don’t even have a brand.
That’s where we can help.
Quantum has created over 500 brands in over 65+ categories, serving over 150 major brands that you know and love.
We’re passionate about using brand science to help brands grow and sell.
If that’s what you need, let’s talk.
About The Author: Stæven
Branding nerd and design researcher. Founder + Principal at Quantum Branding. Loves oranges, scooters, white mochas, coke zeros + cats. Hates condiments and folding laundry.
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