PLBUYER JUNE 2011 The Ten Keys to Private Brand Success Guest Commentary BY PATRICK RODMELL 6 THE 10 KEYS TO PRIVATE BRAND SUCCESS: KEY NO. 6: PRODUCT INNOVATION Commit to innovation; and get credit for it. I t’s been almost 30 years since it launched, and I still can’t think of a private label product that defines innovation like Loblaws’ President’s Choice “Decadent” Chocolate Chip Cookie. Loaded with chocolate chips. Made with creamery butter. It blew away the national brand in taste tests and became a huge hit with consumers. Better yet, it became an icon of innovation for the business and helped crystallize its commitment to product innovation; a commitment that still serves the business well, as President’s Choice is one of the most iconic private brands worldwide. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many other home runs in private label product innovation out there, which is why product innovation remains one of the last strongholds of national brands over private labels. The benchmark for private And when innovations do happen, label innovation. they lack the marketing muscle behind them to really make an impact on consumers, either through be a proactive activity for retailers, physical packaging also can motivate Product innovation in private weekly flyers or in the stores. not reactive. I’m amazed to learn purchase behavior – I’m still waiting label is not only about delivering Beyond innovation driving new that “product development and for re-sealable cereal packaging and against the current needs of the products, there is also the equally innovation” aren’t even a structured portion-controlled milk dispensers… marketplace; it’s about creating important goal of improving the part of some retailers’ private label and which retailer is going to be enthusiasm for your overall brand, quality of existing items. When programs…they simply wait for first to embrace refillable stations for signaling to consumers that you was the last time you saw the claim innovation to fall into their lap. laundry detergent and pet food as are a progressive retail destination “new and improved” on a private Innovation should be based on part of their private label offering? that offers new and exciting items label package? It’s a rare sighting. clear brand direction and an in-depth If you think you might be every time they visit. It’s not just Maybe product improvements are understanding of where trends are lagging behind the innovation about committing to innovation; happening, but very few retailers are heading and where the opportunities curve and want to know how it’s about getting credit for it. getting any credit for it. Promotion lie. Delivering these insights should you currently stack up, I’d of innovation and new items should be the retailer’s responsibility, suggest you ask yourself a few Patrick Rodmell (email@example.com) be permanent marketing programs, working with suppliers to identify questions: is president and CEO of Watt International, NOT one-time events. trends and opportunities that are • How does the range of your a Toronto-based integrated retail agency So, what holds back most retailers most important to driving their brand private label programs compare with more than 40 years experience in more from a healthy dose of innovation in message – for example, convenience to the range of your immediate, than 40 countries around the world. The their private label portfolio? Many and healthier alternatives (snacks, closest competitors? company is well known for creating such would say that commitment and fortified foods, etc.) should be on the • How many new items have landmark private brands as President’s investment from the organization radar of private brand directors at been added to the private label Choice, Great Value and Safeway Select, and is lacking, so they are at the mercy every grocery retailer. portfolio in the past year? more than 100 other private brands world- of what their brokers and suppliers And remember, innovation doesn’t • How do consumers score wide. To read the first five of Patrick’s keys, bring to the table. In many cases, this have to be about what’s inside the box. your private label programs on go to privatelabelbuyer.com and look in the holds true. But innovation should Advancements in the ergonomics of “innovation”? PLBuyer Voices section.