By Ali Lipson.
The room was filled at the Keynote breakfast on Monday, November 15, 2010 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. In addition to food provided by the conference center, Ralcorp provided a variety of private label breakfast cereals on each table for the audience to enjoy. After an introduction by PLMA President, Brain Sharoff, Michael Sansolo Contributing Editor of Morning News Beat began his presentation. Filling in for retired Kroger COO and President, Don McGeorge, Michael spoke about what’s currently happening in the world of private label and what the outlook for the future is. There were many relevant takeaways from his talk on How Retailers and Manufacturers can Work Better Together.
Many stores have been offering deep discounting to compete with Private label brands. As a result, national brands are trying to gain back share that Private Label has taken away. Private label brands are trying to take it to the next level. They are focusing on combining health and convenience, taking exotic flavours mainstream and implementing other types of product innovation. Social media has become effective in allowing store brands new ways to connect directly with consumers.
The forces of the economy have propelled a lot of private label growth. However, easy growth comes and goes very fast. Retailers and manufacturers need to recognize what happened, no one surrenders market share without a fight. There is an increased amount of pressure from consumers, retailers, and the government surrounding health issues and childhood obesity in the US. What are brands going to do to help customers eat better at the end of the day? Another key issue is transparency. Consumers demand to know what is in their products, this is especially a concern as it pertains to food safety.
The customer today is incredibly complex. Shoppers have a series of competing interests coming to mind when shopping. Retailers believe shoppers come in with X amount of dollars to spend and will buy what fits. Time and convenience are very important to consumers, while taste is also a factor. How will products balance these needs? Personal fulfilment is also top of mind for consumers. They want things that taste good and are interesting and different. Manufacturers and retailers need to work closer together to provide solutions to complex problems. We are in highly competitive times and sales growth will not be easy.
Walking through the innovation hall filled with exhibitors, many new and interesting products caught our eye. See below for a list of new products and trends that were apparent at the 2010 PLMA Private Label Show.
Interesting Products/Trends Seen at the Show:
- New product – superfruit juice shot. Looks like energy drink shot but superfruit juice.
- New product – super-absorbent sponges that absorb water like shammies
- New product – a degreaser/oven cleaner in gel format meant “stick” on vertical surfaces
- New product – a 100% natural insecticide that also clings to vertical surfaces
- New product – laundry detergent in a “squeeze bag” for easy, hassle-free dispensing
- New product – nicotine strips that dissolve on your tongue to satisfy cravings to smoke
- Healthier snack alternatives
- Enhanced/flavored products – orange flavored raisins
- Stevia based drinks
- Gluten free products
- Low sodium products
- Dried fruit sweetened with apple juice instead of added sugar
- Healthy indulgences – cherry pie flavored dried cherries
- “Green” cleaning agents in terms of both ingredients and packaging
- Emphasis on consumer-convenient packaging innovations
- Expanded consumer health product lines
- Natural ingredients/full ingredient disclosure
- Pre-measured single dose detergents (pouches, tablets)
Additionally, the idea supermarket featured displays of interesting and innovative private label products by category. Photos below show the Environmental products, Consumer Health products and Healthy Eating solutions: