DALLAS — Getting company-wide input — from marketing to merchandising to category managers — is key to private-label success, said Laura Sturdevant, director of product development for private brands at Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill.
“Get employees involved,” she said last week at the Private Brands Summit at FMI2012 here.
During the development process, retailers should let employees at all levels experiment with ingredients, flavors and textures, and suggest recipes for new products, she said.
“It’s important to let them own the brand, because then they will get excited about it,” she said.
Sturdevant was part of a panel discussion called “Building Strong Retail Brands Through Multi-Faceted Collaboration.” Other panelists were George Miketa, executive vice president, sales, Snacks Holding Co.; and Todd Maute, a partner at CBX, a branding firm.
Partnering with a design agency will add to the private-brand appeal, Sturdevant said.
“Design agencies can provide ownable design solutions so that retailers can be different on the shelf,” she said.
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Once launched, private brands need strong marketing support involving not only traditional advertising, but also new tactics like social media, mobile coupons and QR codes, Sturdevant added.
“There are so many different ways to market to consumers, even compared to just five years ago,” she said. “If retailers adapt to that, they’ll capture new consumers.”
The process doesn’t end once the product is on the shelf. Retailers need to measure the product’s sales and profits continually, Sturdevant said.
“You need to find out if you delivered what you planned to deliver,” she said.
To accomplish this, it’s worthwhile to invest in qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine if changes need to be made.
“It’s better to find out early on in the process, rather than find out two years down the road that it didn’t work,” she noted.
By making such an investment, companies will get bigger, faster returns, she said.
Walgreens should know. The drug store chain is on target to double its private-label sales, which currently stand at $4 billion, over the next five to seven years.
Part of the way it’s doing so is by consolidating its program from some 75 brands down to just a few core lines.
At the same time, the retailer is developing new brands. One of the biggest is “Nice!” a 300-item line of grocery and household products at prices up to 30% below other national brands.