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FLEXO Magazine : August 2010
Industry Indicators Imagine a brand portfolio that numbers some 6,000 stock keeping units (SKUs), crosses hundreds of retail catego- ries and generates approximately $1.8 billion to $2 billion in annual sales. Concentrate for a moment on the packag- ing requirements generated. Think in terms of design and delivery. Stand for a moment in the shoes of Doug Palmer. He is familiar with the dynamic. It’s an integral part of his role as vice president, Own Brands at The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. For the past three years, he has been leading the effort to reinvigorate and revitalize private label offerings at “America’s Oldest Supermarket.” Design partners say A&P, as the company is commonly known, is establishing a bold, new voice in packaging; breaking and dispensing with the traditional mold and actually revolutionizing the store brand business. Brand image is being redefined by lines the likes of Via Roma and Green Way; yet the concept applied to such signature brands, and the process for both product and package development, stretches across the complete A&P portfolio. Strategies deployed require an in-house staff of 35+, as well as a dedicated cadre of business partners to execute and bring to the shelf. This is the story. Priorities, Priorities “ The constant challenge for store brand managers is to keep up with trends in hundreds of categories and keep your proprietary brands relevant,” Palmer explains. “ Most national brands only exist in one, maybe two catego- Building Brand equity one supermarket’s story By robert Moran ries. A retailer’s core brand crosses dozens of categories and represents several thousands of SKUs. Keeping up with all the activity in those 100+ categories can be a daunting task.” Shedding light on history, Palmer adds, “A&P is 150 years old. As the nation’s first supermarket chain, it has always had a leadership role in the development of store brands. The evolution of store brands the past three decades has really been driven by the consumer and the response by retailers to meet those needs. “In the early 1980s it was all about price with black and white labels. Inconsistent quality ruled the day. As consumers became more educated about food products, they demanded better quality. Retailers responded by asking the supplier community to put more safeguards into their production lines, source better ingredients, and stay current with their offerings.” Eventually, he says, “Retailers started to emphasize their own brands, adding a level of ‘ownership’ within the retail culture. At A&P, our store brand share is approaching 20 percent of annual sales and we expect it to grow for some time.” Palmer maintains that, “Every brand should go through a review process peri- odically to make sure it is still relevant to consumers.” He remembers taking such marching orders three years ago and launching into consumer research that would identify patterns and priorities that would rebuild the business. “Findings from the research all photos courtesy: a&P. A&P: Keeping Proprietary Brands Relevant • Elegant photography...Simplicity of design... Consumer friendly at the shelf. • Label architecture matches product attributes— clean, free and simple. • Take label to where it is going to live. • Collaborative development relies on partners who work well together, challenge each other, and look for ways to improve on the status quo • As brand building becomes prominent with retailers, it will force interesting partnerships between design- ers, prepress companies and printers. It’s all about speed and efficiency. 14 FLEXO august 2010 www.flexography.org August2010_mech.indd 14 8/13/10 7:45 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010