Spread the Word

December 1, 2004
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Spread the Word
BY JILL BRUSS
Merchandising creates a private label presence and captures new consumers – make it count.
I was embarrassingly excited when I came across a story about grocery shopping in one of my favorite consumer magazines this month. The article merged my profession and my passion for reading lifestyle magazines in an article about how to “stay on course and budget with insider strategies for navigating the supermarket.” And the story included private label!
The article explained shelf layout, pointing to the bottom shelf for store brands because people who buy them will go hunting, at least according to the “experts” this magazine interviewed. Another source pointed out that store brands are “usually” close to category leaders in quality, but cost less. There’s really no debating what either said — true in some circumstances — but based onPL Buyer’s recent conversations with experts in merchandising, there’s far more to selling private label, and it’s clear we still have to educate mainstream consumers on the joys of store brands.
Food and non-food sources alike emphasize how inherently important merchandising is to selling private label and creating a presence on store shelves. Be present for consumers who don’t “hunt” for private label and make the proposition clear by showing value vs. national brands, sources say again and again. There are certainly tactics that serve some categories better than others, but some themes recur:
Keep store shelves stocked. All of you work diligently to create loyalty and differentiate vs. your competition. Don’t hook a consumer with a great, well-priced private label item and then disappoint them with a barren shelf.
Mind the price gap. By design, private label offers great prices, but retailers need to fiercely guard product perception because consumers do judge product by packaging and price point. Too high – no real value and national brand recognition may prevail. Too low – perception is everything and cheap means poor quality.
Commit. You have control within the walls of your store. Build a great program and merchandise it so consumers don’t have to rely on what they learn from mainstream media!

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