Own labels have home advantage

In his article “Brand targeting rules were made to be broken” (MW June 12), Alan Mitchell quite rightly highlights the imaginative thinking that has helped to give retailers an advantage over many of the more leaden-footed packaged goods brands.

However, the suggestion that marketing skills and originality of thinking account exclusively for this success misses one vital ingredient.

To consumers, the major grocery multiples are primarily buildings or marketplaces. Whatever occasional attempts retailers make to create an emotional bond to the company name, convenience and location remain the dominant decision drivers.

The physical store is therefore the forum in which brands must make their proposition to consumers. A brand carrying the same endorsement as the building is immediately understandable and in context. More importantly, a brand owned by the team that decides on space allocation and shelf location has a massive advantage. Whatever advertising support a competing brand might have, it will be hard-pressed to overcome such an advantage at the point of purchase.

So yes, brands can learn useful lessons about rising above product values. In the end, though, the dynamics of retailer brands and proprietary brands are and will remain fundamentally different.

Philip Lawder


Strategy for Innovation and Design

Pinner, Middlesex

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