News & Blog - Ideas

The rise of private label brands and strategies to maintain shelf space

When Target announced this week its plans to launch store brand Good & Gather, my reaction was split. The Bullseye-loving shopper in me jumped for joy as yet another excuse to visit the retailer emerged. As a food marketer, I winced on behalf of the broader food and beverage industry that’s grappling with adapting to such rollouts.

What exactly does an announcement like this mean and how can longtime brands respond?

Store and private-label brands are nothing new. Until recently, they served as an alternative and lower-cost option on the shelf with a perceived quality to match. Bearing no-frills branding, these products were certainly nothing to showcase in the cart or home pantry.

As with many aspects of our culture today, there’s been a dramatic shift. I can attest that being among the first to buy and try items from the Good & Gather line will positively define status among one’s peer set — at least in my social media feeds. Think about the attractive cleaning products now prominently displayed on designers’ laundry room counters or unicorn anything popping up on snack-obsessed Instagram profiles. The success of many of these products is equal parts the thrill of consumer discovery and creative branding.

Accordingly, we can expect that such store brand offerings will only increase in prevalence as retailers dial-up attention and investment in their own extensions. As The Wall Street Journal reports, executives are turning to these solutions to keep grocery prices low, play up more sophisticated product lines and attract younger customers. This is in addition to pursuing other competitive perks within their stores, including experiential spaces and online ordering or delivery.

While all of this sounds fantastic to shoppers, store and private-label launches typically mean less shelf space and retailer promotion of bigger brands. Previously, store brands were hardly marketed, but now many of them are a traffic-driving promotion.

Marketers not already in the private-label game themselves will need to work harder to maintain customer visibility for their brands and products. Here are five strategies to consider:

  1. Cozy up to Retail Influencers – While retailers are busy promoting store brands on their owned channels, turn to those who devote their feeds to products on those specific stores’ shelves. Target is one of the most popular in this arena, with dozens of Instagram users and bloggers dedicated to showcasing new and existing products there, in exchange for a sponsored content fee.
  2. Fine-Tune Social Media Ad Targeting – Remind shoppers of your brand’s presence at a retailer by directing consumers to your products on a store’s product locator page. However, it’s recommended to secure permission from the retail customers before mentioning them by name.
  3. Remind the Customer You’re Invested – Category managers or buyers will likely appreciate the effort and financial investment a brand is devoting to a product’s success in their stores. Keep them abreast of these sales-driving initiatives, which also can include high-profile media coverage.
  4. Refresh Your Packaging Appeal – Today’s store and private-label brands are fresh, vibrant and simplistic. Is it time to consider a logo or packaging update that appeals to a new or younger demographic? This makeover can also be applied to the aesthetic of a brand’s social media feed or website.
  5. Redirect Consumer Attention – In some cases, brands may need to shift gears entirely in the wake of big changes by picking up new retail customers or selling direct to consumers. Of course, the latter is not as efficient, but there are ways to boost activity there, including with a robust e-commerce strategy, search campaigns, CRM and email lists, and social media targeting.

We have worked with brands on every level of the spectrum from new and independent to Fortune 500. Understanding the importance of delicate customer relationships, we work closely with brands to build, implement and merchandise campaigns that perform. We also thrive on demonstrating the value of your investment to important contacts.

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