Retailers “Go Long” With Brand Strategy

The competition is ramping up. Savvy retailers are increasingly leaving behind the “me too” approach and creating products with quality, cachet and style that stand with the best of national brands.
But as with any brand-building effort, this is no slam-dunk proposition. “The only way for the private label brand to succeed is for the retailer to make the necessary commitment and investment in product sourcing, inventory, product development, and marketing,” says Dr. Stephen J. Hoch, marketing department chair at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
And many are doing just that. Longs is a drugstore chain on the West Coast and in Hawaii with more than 470 stores that, previously, lacked consistency and focus: store managers had the latitude to carry any merchandise they wanted, regardless of whether it was in keeping with the Longs brand.
New management came in with a commitment to branding and they asked Proteus to take a fresh look at Longs’ private label lines and the Longs experience overall. This was a major strategic initiative designed to underscore the retailer’s core value of wellness as well as its heritage as a West Coast mainstay.
Proteus completed a complete line logic and SKU assessment across 13 product and service categories, creating messaging, brand identities and trade dress, all validated with consumer testing.
Two separate product lines were developed as a result. The first, Long’s Wellness, is a store brand that maximizes the endorsement of the Longs name to identify products most strongly aligned with the retailer’s drug-store heritage. The “Wellness” name now graces vitamins, over-the-counter drug products and baby products and has extended to naming the pharmacy the “Wellness Center.”
The second line was a collection of 12 private label brands that were developed with unique naming conventions to underscore Longs’ West Coast heritage (for example, Bayside Basics for consumables, Golden Gate Goodies for snacks, Pacific Living for seasonal items). Though they did not carry the Longs name as an endorsement, these brands played to the chain’s overall regional strength and appealed to consumers who saw Longs not as a chain, but as a neighborhood drugstore that has always been a part of the local landscape.
In the testing phase of this initiative, Longs’ store brand customers overwhelmingly gravitated toward the new packaging solutions over national brands. And when this extensive project is complete, Proteus will have helped Longs launch nearly 1,200 products and demonstrate the retailer’s overwhelming commitment to marketing like a national brand.
Where to go for more information...
Strategic design. At Proteus Design, call 617.263.2211 or visit