Store Brands

SEP 2016

Store Brands delivers unprecedented strategic and tactical information needed by retail executives to develop and support compelling, differentiated store brand programs to build customer loyalty.

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2 2 Store Brands / September 2016 / www.storebrands.info Cover Story: hold top-to-top sessions where we have an opportunity to share our philosophy with the leadership of our largest supplier manufacturers. We also conduct Supplier Summits where we share a broad range of information and ideas with all of our suppliers." And with good communication comes more opportunity to innovate. "Our goal is to work with [our suppliers] to marry their capabilities with the needs of our shoppers," says Sean Barrett, vice president, own brands product management, Albertsons. "When looking for a new product for our shoppers, we establish a clear business strategy for the product, along with defined targets and success criteria (quality, timing, claims, etc.). Sometimes our suppliers have products available that meet our needs, and other times we work with them to develop the right products." But the best relationships between retailers and suppliers mean little if the manufacturer cannot produce a product that lives up to the high quality standards set by Albertsons for its private brand line. Therefore, Albertsons takes a very hands-on approach when it comes to quality assurance. New suppliers are required to be GFSI Level 3 certified and to pass Albertsons' internal technical review process, which evaluates how the food is formulated to be safe, how compliance to specifications is ensured by the supplier, how the recommended shelf life is validated, and whether or not appropriate certifications are in place and up to date, Seiple says. An Albertsons quality assurance site audit might be required for new suppliers as well. Albertsons' product development and quality assurance teams are sometimes on-site for product testing and/or first production runs. Their presence at the manufacturing facility is often based on the complexity of the product and the retailer's previous experience with the supplier. First-product-run cases are sent to the technical center for evaluation, and no product may be shipped to Albertsons warehouses until that product has been approved by the product development and quality assurance teams, Seiple notes. When consumers contact Albertsons about a store brand product, that communication is closely monitored. All consumer communications regarding store brand products are reported on daily. If any trends indicate an issue with a supplier, the trends are immediately flagged and shared with the appropriate supplier. Then Albertsons requires corrective action to be taken and proof it was implemented, Seiple says. Spreading the word Albertsons has put just as much time and effort into marketing and merchandising its store brands as it has into developing them. To begin with, the retailer takes great care with its packaging design, as "packaging is [its] primary communication/marketing vehicle," Barrett says. "We are constantly working to ensure our packaging is winning at shelf at the first moment of truth," he adds. "We partner with a few great creative agencies that help design our brands and packaging. We also get feedback on brand, product and packaging from our shoppers during the development process." And in its Culinary Kitchens and Technical Center, the retailer has the same frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable display cases and shelving that is found within its stores. Its sales and marketing teams use these displays to evaluate how its packaging works on shelf and also can work together to develop and evaluate shippers and floor displays, Seiple says. "The own-brand business teams are located one mile from the Culinary Kitchens and Technical Center, so it is easy to bring the entire project team together to evaluate ideas, prototypes and finished products," he notes. The retailer also leverages all of its marketing assets — from in-store displays and point-of-sale material to weekly advertisements — to market its store brand products. And it uses social media, coupons, shared mail, radio, digital radio and videos to promote private brands. Plus, Albertsons isn't afraid to get creative with its marketing strategies, Barrett says. "When we launched the Open Nature brand, we built the world's largest picnic table," he says. "The Guinness Book of World Records certified it as the longest picnic table in the world, and we had a giant picnic on National Picnic Day." When the retailer debuted its Signature brand this year, Albertsons teamed up with actress and Cooking Channel host Tiffani Thiessen to inspire shoppers with her tips and recipes for signature meals and moments. Thiessen will lead a number of marketing efforts supporting the Signature family of brands. "Tiffani Thiessen is a mom, actress and host of the popular Cooking Channel show 'Dinner at Tiffani's', which uniquely positions her as a food and lifestyle influencer who many people can identify with," Foltz says. SB

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