This year’s PLMA seemed like a busy, well attended event with no signs of a lack luster economy. Private Label in America continues to growth in importance and in share so it’s no wonder the show floor was full of new products and new companies trying to get into the PL game.
Most interesting to me for the second year in a row was the section in the Innovation Hall where new lines from both U.S. and international retailers were featured side by side. It’s a great way to see what’s happening and what’s not. Perhaps it was the selection process by show management, but from the lines displayed one would have to conclude that retailers are trying desperately to create upscale lines that will appeal to a different customer or “buying moment” than their traditional value entry private label brands.
Meijer’s new “Gold” line features a fairly traditional collection of specialty items from sauces and condiments to condiments packaged in, also a fairly traditional approach, a black and gold labeling concept. Much of the packaging on display was pretty tasty but like the Meijer’s entry the naming process lacked imagination and originality here are just a few of the line-brand names on display “Appetit”, “Taste of Inspirations”, “Compliments” Kitchen Gourmet”, “Signature Classics”, “Extra Special”. Tesco and Topco both are taking a ‘restaurant quality at home approach with “Restaurant Collection” and “Dining In”.
One very interesting exception to the sameness rule was a new line by Marks and Spencer ….Simply FULLER LONGER - a healthy eating line touting high protein, balanced carbs and low calories. It’s simply packaged in a clean, fresh and healthy looking white package with appetizing food photography. This straight forward, need driven positioning is “brilliant” as the Brits like to say. I think it would work well in the U.S., taping into the low glycemic trend and talking straight to the dieter’s need. I hope it lives up to its promise and that the he line’s taste delights as much as its promise.
Finally, one other entry from the UK really stood out with perhaps the gutsiest packaging risk I’ve seen in a really long time. Menu from Waitrose featured an all black package face with no food photography and bare bones product descriptions. I love creative solutions to new problems, but for me not only is this approach a risky depart from convention the position in unclear (black….upscale or budget) and key communication needs seem unmet. What do you think?