McBride: A big business behind the big brands

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McBride is one of the biggest manufacturers of supermarket own-brand cleaning and laundry products in the UK, making 100 million bottles of bleach at its Middleton factory annually and producing 2.5 billion dishwasher tablets in Europe last year.

As well as being the business behind some of the major multiples’ own-label goods, it also owns limescale remover Lime Lite, oven cleaner Oven Pride and is a licensee of Persil washing-up liquid.

McBride UK head of marketing Andy Leydon says the days of supermarkets lagging behind branded goods are over. Where they might have replicated a branded product several months after it had appeared on-shelf, retailers increasingly want their own-label goods to be innovative.

“Can a private label go out on a limb and start making innovative claims that maybe they don’t just follow the brands, but leap ahead of them? If there is a consumer need, then absolutely. We spend a lot of our time identifying where those opportunities are – not to be a second-class version of a brand, but to be a first-class version of what we want to be.”

Leydon says supermarkets can create a point of difference through their own-label goods. “We are seeing a move now to create unique positionings for private-label goods, where, for example, brands can’t cater for the different nuances of a Sainsbury’s or an Asda consumer.

“There are always generic needs for consumers, so the product must clean the clothes, for example, but there are slight nuances that we can develop that are very relevant for some retailers. This gives them a point of difference they need which drives the loyalty they are all looking for.”

Leydon explains that in the laundry category, for example, fragrance will be more important to customers of some retailers than others, while some stores will choose to emphasise sensitive skin products. He adds: “These are the types of small distinctions that can enable a retailer to make a claim that they can then capitalise on. Then that strategy can help make it a destination shop.”

McBride is also growing its branded goods business, making different products to those it supplies to supermarkets, so that it doesn’t compete with itself. These include Planet Clean, an ecological laundry range, as well as Lime Lite and Oven Pride.

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It has reduced this portfolio from about 20 brands to four or five to focus on developing them as strategic brands. These now make up about 10% of its overall business.

“In terms of having a balanced business model, we choose to operate in fairly niche areas where a brand proposition has more credibility than a private label. So, there is a high level of benefit delivered to the consumer and we pick and choose very carefully where we operate, either via acquisition or organic growth,” says Leydon.

“Instead of having 20 brands that we’d use opportunistically, we now have four or five which have investment and a specific marketing campaign that is going to drive growth for us and retailers.”

While McBride doesn’t get involved with supermarkets’ own-label marketing campaigns, it does advertise its own branded goods. People are likely to buy Oven Pride again once they’ve tried it, claims Leydon, so campaigns are about trial and awareness.

“When we invest in a brand, we invest a lot in understanding whether we should focus on a frequency, loyalty or penetration strategy and then devise campaigns around that.”

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