Over the past decade, private labels have travelled the long road from neglected stepchildren to central components of many retailers’ business strategies. As retailers have embraced “own brands” as a driver of profit and shopper loyalty, there’s been a stunning transformation in the packaging of these brands. Retailers now realize that private label doesn’t need to look cheap in order to convey value, nor does it need to mimic the appearance of national brands to suggest comparable quality. Leaders such as Target and Safeway have used their up & up and O Organics lines respectively to abandon knockoff design strategies in favor of more sophisticated, branded approaches that highlight the visual cues associated with well-established national brands — prominent branding, compelling visuals and even structural innovation.
Without question, this revolution in retail branding has placed an increased burden on national brands, which must work harder than ever to justify price premiums. In particular, they’ve been forced to raise the bar on their packaging to compete at the point of sale against increasingly compelling private label brands.