For private brands to be successful, we believe that retailers should focus on providing a Unified Brand Experience (UBX) for customers. UBX is about going beyond Customer Experience - it’s about connecting communities: the consumer, the retailer and the suppliers, around the private brand products and their performance for customers.
There are two key elements to achieving a Unified Brand Experience:
- Working with suppliers as ‘One Team’
- Working around a shared ‘One View’ of product performance
We’ve explained the concept of ‘One View’ in a previous blog, but what do we mean by ‘One Team’ for private brands and their suppliers?
The concept of One Team is quite simple. The detail may be a little more complex, but as a way of working, it’s very achievable.
Why should private brand retailers be interested in really connecting with their suppliers?
Retail success today, especially in grocery, pretty much demands success in private brands. These private brands set retailers apart and drive both footfall and margin. They also play a key role in defining how consumers view the retail brand.
What is the brand’s key feature? Is it low price? Is it value for money? Is it high quality? Is it innovation?
There will perhaps be an element of all of these attributes but products need to support the brand’s definitive proposition. Is it premium products and choice such as Waitrose 1, or is it economy (with limited choice) such as with the so called ‘discounters’ Aldi and Lidl?
Producing competitive products
Whatever the objective, retailers are dependent on their suppliers to provide the products which consistently deliver. Competitive does not always mean ‘the best’; it is about products that deliver against the brand promise . We are a far cry now from the ‘white label’ scenario where products were simply re-labelled with the retailer’s name. It’s all about creating competitive products specific to the retailer, and this requires collaboration with suppliers.
For these products to be competitive, they need to compete with the national brands. The advantage that the national brands have is that sales, marketing, product management, production, operations and quality are all within the same company; potentially within the same office.
This is where the value of working together with private brand suppliers becomes apparent. To be competitive, the retail private brand team and their suppliers must work as ‘One Team’ or as Dave Lewis at Tesco refers to it, as ‘one business’.
Meeting the challenge of scale
A retailer may have a team of say, 30 technical managers who have responsibility for consistency and compliance. The unique challenge for retail private brand teams is that there will be hundreds if not thousands of private brand products across tens of categories and it is therefore impossible to compete with the resource of the national brands without the collaboration of the suppliers.
Working as ‘One Team’ with suppliers through successful Supplier Engagement means it is no longer just 30 technical managers, but a team of 250+, all working together to ensure competitive products.
Bringing in ‘One View’ of private brand products
The same retailer may have 20 product managers responsible for NPD. However, it’s actually the makers of the retail private brand products who are the specialist product developers and manufacturing experts. By sharing customer feedback with them to create a holistic ‘One View’ of product performance, they will be able to work to ensure quality, generate new ideas and develop more innovative products based on these ‘real’ customer insights.
Working as One Team delivers competitive private brands
Ultimately, working as One Team is about supporting suppliers through better communication and understanding so that they can help deliver more competitive brands, more efficiently.
One Team is about being transparent about both supplier performance and product performance. It’s about building engagement by sharing insights and building effective communication between the supplier and the retail private brand team. This enables both teams to work more cost effectively and efficiently to deliver winning competitive private brands.