They of course will be twisting their supplier thumbscrews ever tighter, but ultimately there is only so far that cost cutting will take a business. At some stage it needs to grow. And here is where a sound own brand strategy can make a difference.Own brand is possibly the best weapon in a supermarket’s armoury, if it gets it right.
It is supremely flexible. The name can be applied to thousands of products at various price ranges. Tesco Finest operates at the top end, and Tesco Value at the bottom. Sainsbury has Taste the Difference and Basics, Asda has Extra Special, Chosen by You and Smart Price. Waitrose Essentials distinguishes their standard range from more expensive variants.
Done well own brands can enhance a retailers reputation, and provide a point of difference from competitors. Marks and Spencer has built a business on great quality, highly innovative food products.Ultimately though, the reason why supermarkets make such an effort on own brands is that they are more profitable than national brands, because they deliver a higher margin.
A good own brand range is especially important just now. Lower margin national brands are promoting heavily, drawing sales from own label. And, supermarkets are desperate to provide reasons for people to choose their store rather than a competitor’s, so that they get the highest possible share of a shrinking market.So, we hear that Morrisons, which has 45% of its sales in own brand, is planning its first own label revamp for four years. Sainsbury is relaunching its 6500 line mid tier range, renaming it “By Sainsbury”. Apparently around 25% of products across Sainsbury are new each year, so that customers don’t get bored and go elsewhere.
Waitrose is also working on improving its own label offer.
Reportedly Tesco is trying something completely different, registering a number of different brand names, but not displaying on the packaging that the brands in question belong to them. The products will be premium priced. Chokablok ice cream for example which is said to be one of the new Tesco brands, sells at the same price as Haagen Daz.
The consistent theme through all these upgrades is an emphasis on quality. Supermarkets realise that in order for their own label ranges to succeed competitively they have to offer a combination of quality, price, and something a bit out of the ordinary.
So supermarkets’ own brands are more profitable and a potential differentiator. There is also a new thread emerging. Shopping online has been earmarked as a growth area, and retailer labels can play a part in enhancing a supermarket’s on line shopping offer. The IGD points out that the web does not suffer the same space constraints as a shop, and so the full range of own label can be highlighted, reinforcing a stores reputation in whatever area they choose be it for innovation, price or quality, or ethical and environmental standards.