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A brand by any other name...

Article-A brand by any other name...


7-2-2013 ADDENDUM: See the results of the Private Label => Store Brands magazine competition here. Enjoy! LP


Lisa McTigue PierceDo you still call them private-label products? Or the trendier moniker "store brands?" Either way, they are worthy competitors.

During the Great Recession, consumers switched to lower-priced store brands in many categories and found the products—and their packaging—as good as the pricier national-brand equivalents.

Store brands are more entrenched in our lives than ever before. According to Deloitte's 2013 "American Pantry Study," 88 percent of survey respondents say they have found several stores brands that are equal to their national-brand counterparts. 

And, now satisfied, few of these consumers plan to return to national brands as the economy rebounds. Only 27 percent say they plan to do so, an eight percentage point decline from 2012—despite the fact that the price differential between store and national brands is shrinking. Instead of delivering savings of up to 50 percent, store-brands today save about 30 percent on average, as cited in The Augusta Chronicle last year. In that article, Sue Perry, deputy editor at ShopSmart Magazine, said prices of store brands could increase to compensate for the costs of packaging and other improvements.

Sure, investment in packaging depends on the product tier—value items still merit basic package designs. But many new store-branded products compete in higher-end categories, and arrive dressed in beautiful, award-winning packages.

In early April 2013, the editors of Packaging Digest served as judges in the packaging competition for Private Label =>Store Brands magazine for the second consecutive year. More than 300 packages were on display at the magazine's Deerfield, IL, offices and represented nearly 200 entries from North American retailers, big and small. 

As we reviewed the entries, I was surprised by some of the packaging designs and strategies of these North American retailers. Five notable packaging trends in private-label products were evident:

1. Unique fonts—including scripts, hand-drawn type and edgy treatments of label copy.
2. Warm earth tones—greens, tans and blues (sky) appeared on many packages and not just for earth-friendly products.
3. Stylized photography—along with high-quality printing for maximum shelf impact.
4. Fun, "whimsical" designs—for products targeted to all age groups, not just kids.
5. Limited-edition products/packages—previously the domain of national brands.

You have just a short wait to see which packages we picked as exemplary. An article about the winners will be published in the June 2013 issue of Private Label => Store Brands magazine. One Top Award was chosen, as well as Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each of five categories: Shelf-Stable Foods; Refrigerated & Frozen Foods; Beverages; Non-Foods; and, new this year, New Lines (which also includes new line extensions).

Clearly, these retailers are well tuned to the needs and wants of today's shoppers. Well done! 



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