Historically, private label brands (own brands) have been regarded as lower value, lower quality options when stacked against well-known national brands. But times are changing and consumers are re-evaluating their criteria when comparing “big name” and “store” brands.
New consumer data confirms that private label brands are gaining traction thanks to the pandemic and current threats of inflation. In fact, 41% of consumers reported buying more store brands than they did pre-pandemic. And most of these shoppers plan to continue. With the rising prices of other consumer goods, trends suggest that even more shoppers will look for new ways to save money.
That puts private label brands like yours in a desirable position.
Your Private Label Brands Need to Be Competitive
As mentioned, consumers are shopping at the intersection of price and quality more than ever — and they’re looking for brands that demonstrate both in their products as well as in their packaging. By paying close attention to what your private label brand is communicating and making modifications as necessary, you can elevate your brand so that it can compete with national brands.
It starts by rethinking your private label brand’s design. By building good design into a value product, you elevate your brand, drive more store traffic, and increase purchases. Here are three tips to get you started.
1. Evaluate the Full Design System of Your Private Label Brand
For years, private label brands were designed to look nondescript. Remember the black and white generics of the 1980’s? The thinking was that these products had to look like the lowest-cost option in order to compete with national brands.
The good news is that on today’s shelves, great design is not reserved for only the most expensive brands. Let your price point communicate the low-cost option to consumers while elevating the visual design to position your brand as true competition for national brands.
The first step is evaluating your overall brand design system — including your color palette, typography, and iconography — to ensure it effectively communicates that your products are more than just the lowest price option.
Look at consumer trends and gather feedback to help you better understand how shoppers perceive your brand. These insights will also clue you in to what shoppers are looking for in private label brands in general. You can use all this information to make more informed decisions about how to update your brand’s design system, whether that’s modernizing your design or revamping your benefit claims.
Once your new design system is in place, apply changes to any new products you’re introducing to the market first. This is the quickest and most cost effective way to get the new design for your private label brand into the market.
Then, look at the categories where you want to grow or establish a presence and incorporate the new design system into your products there.
Finally, look at products you currently have on the shelves. Start with the ones driving the most sales and update those package designs. Follow up with the rest until you’ve updated the brand design of your full product line.
Granted, it’s a long process that could take a year or two, but it’s a crucial step toward creating a presence for your private label brand that is on par with national brands.
2. Use Good Design to Communicate Quality
Consumers have historically assumed that private label products are inferior versions of the more expensive “brand names.” They would see the generic look and immediately question the quality in relation to more familiar brands.
But as you know, today’s private label brands aren’t just knockoffs of national brands. In fact, after price, quality is the next highest competitive advantage your private label brand can offer. In many instances the quality of private label products is equal to — or even better than — national brand counterparts.
And there’s data to back that up. 64% of shoppers rate quality as a key consideration when shopping for private label brands. Ergo, since your private label brand offers quality alternatives, your overall positioning needs to be elevated in order to respond to consumer desires and stay competitive.
Consumers react to brands that look the part. It’s a real world example of the old adage, “Dress for the job you want.” Want your private label brand to be seen as a quality brand? Use your brand design to show the market why it is.
Incorporating good design — guided by your updated design system — communicates an elevated quality of the actual product to consumers. And when a private label brand can communicate quality with its packaging design it can typically attract new audiences.
3. Make Your Private Label Brand Stand Out
Shoppers are smart. They can spot the difference between national brands and private labels. You’re not going to fool them into thinking you’re a national brand by mimicking one’s design.
Instead, differentiate your private label brand so that it stands out on the shelf. As you look to expand your reach, revisit some of the more innovative design approaches you may have shied away from. Those are definitely within the realm of possibility now.
However, it’s important you don’t overcomplicate your packaging and remain selective about the claims displayed in your design.You can still communicate value and quality through smart design without cluttering the front (or the back) of the packaging with every single claim you can make.
Use visuals that speak to consumers in a language that attracts them. You may want to reach every shopper, but you will never earn a purchase from every single person. In fact, when you try to communicate everything with the hopes of reaching everyone, you’ll actually achieve the opposite effect. Shoppers will lose interest in your product if it’s too complicated and it doesn’t communicate specifically to them.
The key is knowing your customers and what drives their purchasing decisions and making design decisions based on that.
A More Powerful Position for Private Label Brands
Although national brands are still the largest segment of the market (due to sheer size and volume), private label brands are gaining momentum.
Target’s newest own brand, Favorite Day, is an effective example of a private brand portfolio positioned for growth. The brand focuses on celebration and indulgence — two things consumers were hungry for following the pandemic. In just over a year in the market, the Favorite Day brand has successfully positioned well-designed, quality-looking products that communicate value to the consumer.
Your private label brand has the same opportunity to capture more of the market. Shifting preferences mean that consumers are looking for both low price and high quality in their purchases — the sweet spot for private label brands.
Since shoppers are proactively looking for private label brands, meet them where they are with well-designed, low-cost products that communicate quality. It’s your opportunity to establish a more prominent place in the market, grow within your space, move into new categories, and capture new audiences.