Store Brands

JAN 2017

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 4 Store Brands / January 2017 / Cover Story delight our shoppers with a weekly cadence of promotions on high-quality brands across the store and offer more choice than our competition. Balance is achieved by offering our shoppers this weekly choice of both national brand and Tops brand items through our promotional features." Tops' private label team has identified several store brand-building categories, including coffee, cheese, ice cream, wholesome snacks, salty snacks, yogurt, cookies, crackers, frozen vegetables and frozen fruit. "These are the categories we want to own and build," Colgan says. "We will not be the No. 1 brand in all of them like chips because Frito-Lay and others are strong in that arena." Tops' brand products are represented in 97 categories and are the No. 1 brand in 33 categories. Jeff Culhane, senior vice president of merchandising, says a strategy is to "ride the coattails" of national brands to create more exposure for private brands. Hence, in-store displays such as ingredients for chili feature national brands along with private brands. While deflation, particularly with commodity products, has affect- ed private label sales for many retailers, Persons keeps an eye on unit sales, which he believes are a better barometer of how private brands are performing. "While sales are important, so is moving units," he states. "Let's make sure that customers are buying our products." One private label category where Tops is No. 1 is salsa. Being No. 1 in any category allows Tops to differentiate by offering more innovative products in its own-brand categories. So Tops introduced premium salsa in pineapple mango and garlic chipotle flavors to differentiate itself from national brands. "Salsa is a category where we can innovate because our supplier allows us to do smaller batches so we can offer unique flavors," Damrath explains. "We can't do that in all categories." As part of the new private label strategy, Persons implemented a key structural change — moving private label from the merchandising department into the marketing department — which he believes will benefit the line. "From a strategic level, this helps bring all the elements [of our private brands] together," Persons explains. "So the marketing end of it is also the packaging and product end of it. We believe this was a game-changer to move the business forward." The loyalty factor Tops has been a mainstay for 55 years in western New York, where about 80 percent of its stores are located in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse Tops' brand-building categories for private label • Coffee • Cheese • Paper/tabletop • Yogurt • Wholesome snacks • Milk • Cookies/crackers • Eggs • Salty snacks/dips, hummus, salsa • Frozen vegetables/frozen fruit • Ice cream/whipped topping • Commercial fresh bakery Store brands are part of meal solution centers featured in Tops' stores. Tops touts locally made store brands with signage.

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