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Store Brands: Getting Better all the Time

Store Brands: Getting Better all the Time

I remember when I was younger, how all “generic” brands came in white packaging with stark black lettering, announcing the product as “potato chips” or “pasta.” Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?

In recent years, however, more stores are private labeling, and a lot of these “store” brands have packaging that is functional AND attractive: What a concept! In my local grocery store, I have seen some pretty impressive store brand packaging.

These retailers are learning what the marketing and design industry have always known: design is important. Design is an influencer in almost every aspect of our lives, from the house we buy to the clothes we wear, and yes, the food we eat. Let’s face it: most consumers are smart enough to know that the ingredients in a store brand product are nearly (or sometimes, exactly) identical to those in the national brand. Many factors (brand loyalty, recognition, status) influence the buying decision, and design is a big one.

Detractors will argue that consumers actually want the no-nonsense packaging; that it makes them feel like they are getting a bigger bargain. The rationale is that, “hey, the less money a company spends on packaging, the more savings they can pass along to me, the consumer.” In reality, though, people are more likely to pick up and purchase an “off” brand if it looks attractive on the shelf. Especially if it is significantly less expensive than a comparable name brand.

A few months ago, Wal-Mart announced plans to revamp their Great Value brand, complete with new product formulations, new categories, and best of all, new packaging. Smart move on Wal-Mart’s part. They already have a loyal customer base familiar with this product line, and as long as prices are not increasing and quality doesn’t suffer, they will retain these customers.

Where this will really make a difference though, is with the “new” Wal-Mart consumer. We are all painfully aware of the toll the current financial situation is taking on all of us, so it goes without saying that more people are looking to discount stores like Wal-Mart for their essentials - things they would have previously shopped for elsewhere. Good design will go a long way in persuading someone unfamiliar with the Great Value brand to try the products. And, with private label brands costing between 5% and 20% less than national brands, it only makes sense that a smart shopper would consider at least trying some of the store brands.

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Jun 26, 2009
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