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First Of Its Kind

June 15, 2012
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Excitement reaches peak for first PLBuyer conference, June 5-7 at the Hilton Chicago.

More than 20 speakers. A group of 100 attendees. Some of the biggest names in private label retailing, gathered in one place.

After months of planning, the final few weeks leading up to the inaugural PLBuyer conference, Private Label: The Next Generation, stirred up emotions from many of those involved.

With private brands playing “a larger role than ever before,” Supervalu Vice President of Private Brands Sam Mayberry says finding a niche is crucial for retailers’ programs to be successful.

“The true art of growing private brand is not competing head to head with national companies, but rather learning how to differentiate your products by creating a portfolio of innovative products that meet your shoppers’ various cooking and family needs,” he says.

Mayberry was set to discuss Supervalu’s three-tier private label program. He says the program reached beyond price.

“Most of us offer a private brand. And most private brands offer a core value proposition based on price,” he says. “However, we believe that price limits the ability to differentiate your store and create a destination with products that bring your shoppers back to shelves.”

Also set to discuss tiers was Jenny Longo, director of private brands at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets. Her company went from one to two tiers and she says laying out the strategy early on helped its success.

“There were buy-ins from all levels,” she says. “The plan kept us on track from everything from timing to launches. It really helps to have that clear visual.”

Once the strategy has been implemented, Price Chopper Director of Corporate Brands & Specialty Foods Mike DeJulio says it is important for retailers to make the most of their private label products. He was set to talk about the use of end cap displays to enhance sales.

“Leveraging end cap displays are extremely important for a retailer in a supermarket chain,” he says. “When [consumers] enter the store, at that point, you really have to have a commitment to corporate brands to try to convince the consumer that it’s the right value and the right quality and the right products to buy.”

Another way of capturing the audience is one that Private Brand Advisors founder Terry Lee was set to discuss, the quick trip shopper. Lee, a veteran executive with private label divisions of Dollar General, Albertson’s and Safeway, says dollar stores in particular had learned the lessons well of marketing private label products to convenience shoppers and other retailers could benefit from following their lead.

“The quick trip and convenience is critical and it’s here to stay,” he says. “I think it’s important that retailers understand the vast majority of trips are quick trips, and so they need to be able to provide an assortment of offerings to consumers to meet their needs.”

Finding new ways to capture customers and audiences could be more important as the growth in private label has slowed the last three years, says Nielsen’s Senior Vice President of Consumer & Shopper Insights Todd Hale. Hale was set to discuss the way forward for retailers in a changing market, and he says companies must continue to push the envelope in their private label programs to restart that growth.

 “I think there’s more opportunity for private brands to really think about how can they really innovate and become a leader in innovation rather than a follower,” he says.

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