, a 25-year veteran of the private label supplier side of the equation and v.p. of sales at Diamond Wipes
, the original manufacturer of hot and cold disposable wet wipes, agreed to share his
perception of how package design has shifted to meet the demands of retailers and consumers.
: How have consumer perceptions of private label changed in recent years?
: We have seen dramatic changes in how programs are developed.
Today, programs are driven by retailers and what they are trying to accomplish.
Most consumers really don't view private label as a "price issue" anymore.
They realize many private label products are brand-matching quality, though not necessarily top-tier brand matching.
: How do retailers approach bringing new private label products into the market?
: Retailers introduce products based on a particular marketing need.
Consumers have bought into the concept of a strong store brand with many SKUs that they can trust.
Retailers know this, and they are driving marketing strategies supporting this type of brand management.
Consequently, the packaging strategies have become much more sophisticated.
: What forces are affecting private label growth?
: The consolidation of supermarket chains is the primary driver of private label expansion.
With fewer chains to compete against, the parent companies can manage their store brands more efficiently, and suppliers naturally find it easier to service larger chains.
: Will private label retain new customers who traded down during the recession after it has passed?
: The philosophical changes in consumer beliefs have forced retailers to respond.
: Private label has become a value business-meaning, consumers are interested in "getting the most quality" for their money.
The progress of private label right now is market driven more than production driven as its was in the past when high-volume and low-cost products were directing the market.
: Do you offer different tiers of quality of the same line of product within a category of private label; and if so, how do you compete against yourself?
: Most private label suppliers offer tiers, and the successful ones "target match" many different targets.
This doesn't mean that the quality is any less, just that different product strata have different requirements.
We're not competing against ourselves so much as offering variety to meet specific needs of the retail community.
The business is often more about configuring the product in new ways, varying the quantity, and improving packaging features to target a national brand.
: Are all consumers willing to believe now that some private label brands are equivalent in quality to national brands?
: There is still a small percentage of private label buyers looking for the "econo buy," where price competition is really down and dirty.
As a consumer, I have found that there is still that market.
Of course, the top-tier or high-end brands have held their ground for now.
Anywhere in the wide middle, however, consumers are willing to trust products labeled under their favorite store brands.
: How has marketing private label brands changed in recent years?
: Retailers have become more similar to national brands in managing their brand.