In recent years, private label has increasingly gained ground in the marketplace with the majority of U.S. shoppers (86%) purchasing some type of store brand regularly. Store brands now account for one out of five items sold in US supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers. In particular, product categories like salty snacks, soda, cookies and paper goods are gaining ground on their national brand counterparts. The trade-off is that the price/value point is no longer enough of a differentiator and private label brands must step up their game in an effort to meet rising shopper expectations. Addressing this progression partly means understanding shopper preference, but it’s also important to remember that consumer curiosity (and brand loyalty) is sparked through creatively designed brand packaging that leads to shelf interaction.
This dynamic can be better understood by looking at the recent re-launch of CVS’ private-label food line, Gold Emblem™. The refresh of the 250+ product line, which includes snacks, dessert items, beverages and groceries, centers on a modern redesign intended to project premium quality. The retailer describes the design revamp as an effort to empower consumers and convey a refined taste profile.
The re-invigorated product line will hit shelves with a new design that incorporates nutritional information on the front of the packaging. The package’s trimmed down, modernized look is meant to reflect Gold Emblem’s commitment to high-quality product taste and helping customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
The reintroduction of the Gold Emblem line underscores the evolving approach by store brands to compete with national brands beyond price differentiation. Many private label offerings are competing directly with national brands and even commanding higher price points in some instances. They are accomplishing this by employing the same tactics used by national brands, leveraging consumer research to inform the packaging design process and engage shoppers on their own terms.
Gold Emblem’s contemporary new look utilizes vivid on-pack product shots and cleaner typography, which gives the product line a much more refined appearance that contrasts with the generic package design of the previous line. CVS does a great job of incorporating nutritional information on the lower right front of their new package layout, including a simplified template of key dietary indicators like calories, saturated fat and sodium. This redesign reflects the retailer’s desire to strengthen brand identity and premium appeal, while promoting consumer interaction via easily accessible nutritional labeling.
However, differentiating the product line could go even further; implementing innovative brand enhancements can allow store brands to more strongly resonate with consumers. Applying a heightened surface with a technique known as Raised Appeal engages shoppers via visual and tactile interaction and boosts consumer preference. With this technique the Gold Emblem becomes more than a visual marker in the aisle, but a physical indicator reinforcing premium quality at the touch. A visual like the Gold Emblem logo can also signal elevated quality by incorporating a technique known as Premium Flash that adds a lustrous and radiant flair to the packaging. Consider an eye-catching brand-block of Gold Emblem products whose golden logos shine in the aisle and convey the image of a finely printed stamp of approval emphasizing the brand’s elevated quality (and taste).
As highlighted in a recent 2013 Better Homes and Gardens study, nutrition, health and quality continue to drive consumer preference for both private label and national brands. Capturing market success will depend increasingly on brand presentation and the ability to connect with shoppers emotionally, while viscerally communicating premium product quality. CVS’ push to reflect a higher taste profile is indicative of this, and the line’s revamp could be bolstered further with the sort of brand enhancing techniques I’ve outlined.
Consumer research and packaging design need to work hand-in-hand by linking actionable insights to design tactics that influence the in-store shopper experience. Brand enhancing techniques can give store brands an added edge when competing alongside national brands for consumer preference at the store shelf. Knowing what consumers want is simply not enough, you have to bring those learnings to life on the shelf. Before brands can tell consumers “we understand what’s important to you,” they have to get them to pick up the package—strategic design enhancements can provide the added boost to do just that.
About Michael R. Pfaff
Michael Pfaff is President of Gallus Printing Machinery, the leader in the development, production and sale of printing technologies designed for enhancing brands at point of purchase. For over 25 years Pfaff has managed and consulted for global leaders in the marketplace, providing package printing expertise and customer-focused solutions.
About the Gallus Brand Engine
The Gallus Brand Engine is a new brand enhancement program that offers brand managers and converters fresh ideas and solutions to engage shoppers where it matters most—at point of sale. The newly launched Brand Engine program leverages Gallus’ world-class printing and brand enhancing technology to help brands boost retail shelf presence, heighten the consumer experience and drive consumption at home. To learn more about the Gallus Brand Engine, visit: www.GallusBrandEngine.com
About Gallus Group
The Gallus Group is the world market leader in the development, production and sale of narrow, mid- and wide-web in-line presses for Folding Carton, Film and Label converting. Its range of machines is complemented by consumables, local service and spare parts throughout the world. In 1999 Gallus entered into a cooperation agreement with Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, the world market leader for print and media industry solutions. Gallus employs around 590 people, of whom 280 are based in Switzerland, at the group headquarters in St. Gallen. To learn more about Gallus Group, visit: www.gallus-group.com
 Mohan, Anne Marie. "Private-label Products: Part of the 'new Normal'" Weblog post. Packaging World. N.p., 1 June 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2013. <http://www.packworld.com/venue/private-label/private-label-products-part-new-normal>.
 "Private-label Packaging -- a 'flight to Value'" Packaging World. Ed. Pat Reynolds. Summit Media Group, 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2013. <http://www.packworld.com/package-component/films/private-label-packaging-flight-value>.
 CVS Caremark Corporation. CVS/pharmacy. CVS/pharmacy Launches Revamped Gold Emblem Line, Featuring Enhanced Ingredients, New Snack Options and More Flavors. Http://info.cvscaremark.com/. N.p., 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://info.cvscaremark.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvspharmacy-launches-revamped-gold-emblem-line-featuring-enhanced-ingredient>.
 2013 BrandSpark International/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study. Rep. Better Homes and Gardens, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013. <http://www.bestnewproductawards.biz/usa/shopper_study.html>.