Selling Private to the Public

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Willoughby Design



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How Can Retailers Create a Brand to Call Their Own?

Private label brands have become very commonplace. Big retailers like Target can have up to 50 of their own private brands (they call them “owned brands”) and they range across categories from lingerie to laundry soap. Some are so successful that consumers don’t even know they are only found at one retailer.

Trader Joe’s is another retailer that is a prolific creator of owned brands. “Often the consumers don’t think of the Trader Joe’s private label as a private label,” said Kusum Ailawadi, a professor of marketing at Dartmouth College. “They think of it as exclusive products that I can’t find anywhere.”

What makes a private label successful? How can you entice consumers to deviate from a favorite brand and try one they’ve never encountered before? A recent survey stated price as the most important factor (88%) and 33% stated the packaging was the reason they gave it a try. That’s pretty big.

Creating a successful private label “label” depends on several critical elements:

  • Understanding the brand of the retailer that is creating it: How do they present themselves to their consumer and what is their brand promise? How will this new brand serve to further deliver on that promise?
  • Knowing the target audience: Who will be receptive to this new brand? What need set will it fill for them?
  • Integrating with the competitive environment: How do you communicate the same quality/benefits of leading brands in the category to ensure confidence?
  • Deviating from the competitive environment: How do you stand apart enough to intrigue?
  • Creating the perfect name: Does it fit with the category? Does it feel “familiar” with the same general feeling as the name brands? Is it ownable?
  • Bringing it all together in a cohesive and irresistible designed brand experience: Does is stand out on the shelf? Does it connect emotionally? Is it memorable?

We’ve been working with pet retailer, Pet Supplies Plus, for several years and have created five private label products with them. Designing a brand from the ground up is always an adventure. If that brand is also a private label product meant to attract loyal consumers in a crowded retail environment, it’s a true exercise in connecting with an audience in new way. Add in our sweet spot, the pet category, and it’s the cat’s pajamas.


Pet Supplies Plus - Private Label - Hartwick fields
View Hartwick Fields Case Study


Pet Supplies Plus - Private Label - Mitten's Morsels
View Mitten’s Morsels Case Study


Pet Supplies Plus - Private Label - Fins First
View Fins First Case Study


If you’re thinking of creating an “owned brand” or rejuvenating an existing private label brand drop us a line and let’s have a conversation.