Unique Benchmarking Strategy Boosts Food Retail Private Brands For New Era

Innovative approach enhances brands and products in post-pandemic period

DALLAS-FORT WORTH, Texas, June 2, 2020— Two private brand companies have jointly launched a new benchmarking strategy to enhance the position of retail private brands for a new era.

Many observers believe food retail private brands will be in a stronger position in the post-coronavirus period. However, that is more likely to happen if retailers and suppliers adapt to quickly shifting consumer needs driven by the pandemic period and its aftermath.

Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB) and Consumer Science have jointly launched a comprehensive new benchmarking strategy called “Consumer Experience Score.” This involves a novel, holistic metric incorporating attributes such as design, packaging, sustainability and healthfulness, as well as traditional sensory and performance measures.

Strategy Improves Retailer Competitiveness

Retailers leveraging this strategy, coupled with price comparisons, will benefit from enhanced insights compared to traditional approaches. Traditional strategies compare private brands primarily to national brands, or analyze only basic sensory attributes, or just one category. The new framework will enable retailers to successfully test a broader range of attributes against a wider variety of private brand and manufacturer brand competitors. This will help retailers to pivot quickly for changing consumer preferences, whether for value, premium or other directions.

Private brands have benefitted from more consumer trial driven by manufacturer brand out-of-stocks during the coronavirus period. While the conventional wisdom is that consumers will seek more value items in the post-pandemic era, that’s not necessarily the case, or it may not be true in all cases. Retailers will need to employ improved private brand benchmarking approaches to ensure that all products consistently deliver against their brand propositions.

Addressing Consumer Needs Post-Pandemic

“Consumers will be more interested in private brands going forward, so this is an ideal time for retailers to boost benchmarking and fine-tune their brand value proposition,” said Chandi Gmuer, Vice President of Consumer Research and Product Testing at Consumer Science. “New kinds of benchmarking are needed to make sure strategies are on target for consumers in this environment, as the discounters Aldi and Lidl did so well back in the financial crisis of 2008.”

James Butcher, CEO of S4RB, said the new approach will enable private brand teams to think differently by delivering against a clear brand value/quality proposition.

“It brings a new standard strategy across multiple categories, to help brand owners understand and enhance their private brand propositions,” Butcher said. “This should all be done in a collaborative way so that suppliers can work with retailers to ensure products meet objectives.”

Research Uncovers Private Brand Insights

The new strategy benefits from Consumer Science’s testing expertise and S4RB’s ability to visualize results in a way that informs better decisions on private brand positioning. The companies used the benchmarking approach to conduct independent research across a number of private brands, including those from Aldi, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, Kroger, Target and Walmart. The research, available from Consumer Science, identified a number of key insights about the state of U.S. private brands through comprehensive testing across multiple categories. Among the insights:

  • The top scoring private brands are consistently providing the best overall consumer experiences at good prices across categories.
  • Some retail brands are challenged by merely average experience scores coupled with higher pricing and disparity in brand value across categories.
  • Some store brands aren’t getting credit for their strong consumer experiences because of less than inspired designs and too-few callouts on packages. For example, in ground Colombian coffee, a category often thought of as premium, products whose designs lacked innovation and seemed outdated received lower Consumer Experience Scores.
  • At times a single attribute, such as texture or presentation, makes a big difference in which private brand items provide the best overall experience in a particular category. For example, the inclusion of croutons in some private brand Chicken Caesar Salad products represented a key differentiator by adding texture and crunch. In the Hummus category, decorative toppings made the difference for some items by boosting presentation.
  • “Only through deeper testing and comparisons will retailers be able to fine-tune their private brand products to boost consumer experience,” said Gmuer.

About Consumer Science

Consumer Science is a team of quantitative and qualitative researchers in the field of product integrity, sensory perception and consumer behavior. It works with clients to provide guidance for positioning, innovation and product improvement.

About S4RB

Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB) is a global, consulting-led software business with a track record of successfully addressing the most complex and important challenges facing private brand retailers. S4RB’s cloud-based Affinity platform boosts innovation and speed of product development, retailer-supplier collaboration, and customer advocacy.

Media Contact:

David Orgel, principal, David Orgel Consulting davidorgelconsulting@gmail.com 917-699-8340 


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Is NBE (National Brand Equivalent) Dead?

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Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB) has announced a new joint venture with Consumer Science, a division of MMI (Marketing Management, Inc.). Together, the organizations will combine their resources and expertise to bring private brand retailers improved product performance assessments, better supplier engagement and faster sales growth.

Consumer Science is an established consumer research and product testing company. Its services include product sensory paneling, focus group facilities, claim substantiation and lab testing. As private brand specialists, the company is involved in helping a number of major retailers monitor and improve the quality of their own label products.

S4RB, a private brand grocery retail specialist, enables better communication between retail teams, suppliers and consumers through innovative software solutions built on its powerful UBX Cloud Services platform. These solutions collate product feedback to provide actionable insights that enable private brand teams to ensure consistent and competitive product quality. S4RB provides clients with insights and strategy to improve products, drive customer satisfaction to new levels and increase profitability.

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Private brand products are an important part of the modern retailer’s offering. As well as bringing higher profit margins than national brand equivalents, they give customers reasons to choose one chain over its competitors. However, private brand product sales in the US lag far behind other countries: in parts of Europe, up to 40 per cent of supermarket sales comprise private brand products, whereas the figure is barely 20 per cent in America.

This situation cannot improve unless retailers are serious about making their brands relevant. To create appealing products, retailers must know and respond to their customers instead of simply mimicking national brands. Internationally, the largest growth is in innovative and premium private brands and 42 per cent of millennials believe these products are more progressive than national brands. By 2020, millennials are projected to represent 30 per cent of total retail sales in the US, with their spending growing to $1.4 trillion annually.

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Chandi Gmuer, vice president of Consumer Science says, “S4RB are thought leaders in the private brand retail space. We are excited to be embarking on a joint venture with them, taking advantage of their innovative software and methodology to add value to the product insights provided by my team.”

Responding to this endorsement, Kieran Forsey, a director at S4RB said, “We are delighted that Consumer Science’s strengths so thoroughly complement our own. Together, we can help retailers revitalize their private brands and achieve much-needed change to increase customer loyalty, product value and, ultimately, sales.”

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