Own brands take the spotlight

It’s been a big week for private label with Asda, Sainsbury’s and online grocer Ocado announcing major own label initiatives.

Ocado has introduced its first own brand range as part of a drive to widen its appeal and become a more mainstream grocer.

Sainsbury’s is to relaunch its top-end Taste The Difference line, with reformulations, product innovation and a modern brand look.

Asda, meanwhile, is choosing to revisit its core range, which it says is worth £8bn to £9bn.

Emma Fox, commercial director of Asda brand, says that mid-level ranges are often neglected.

It’s true as particularly through the downturn supermarkets have tended to focus their efforts on the far ends of the spectrum with entry level and premium ranges hogging the limelight to appeal to frugal shoppers or those looking for a treat.

Asda says own label sales make up half of all its sales and 85% of these come from its core range. For such a significant chunk of its business, Asda admits that its mid-tier core range has been “unloved” up until now.

Now, for the first time it has been given its own brand, values and philosophy.

Asda’s new CEO Andy Clarke, who hosted what he calls the “big reveal” of the new range, came under fire a few weeks ago for publicly slamming the quality of Asda’s food.

Some said that Clarke’s comments at the time were damaging to Asda, but clearly he knew what the rest of us didn’t.

Namely that Asda was in the midst of investing £100m on market research, testing and reformulation of its products to improve their quality and align this with Asda’s core messaging on providing value.

At the launch Clarke said that until recently, value meant price alone, but it now includes quality and service – the other two “critical elements” that combine to mean “real value”.

And in keeping with former Asda CEO Andy Bond’s pledge earlier this year to put the customer at the heart of the business more than 200,000 consumers (not just Asda customers) were involved in the development of the range.

Morrisons’ CEO Dalton Philips also talked about reinvigorating own brand ranges when he outlined his vision for the chain as it reported results last week.

This leaves only Tesco to make a statement of intent about the future of its private label ranges can we expect a shake up of Basics and Finest before the year is out?

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