CBX Expert: Top-Tier Store Brands are a Strategic Necessity for Retailers

In Store Brands magazine column penned prior to the current crisis, veteran branding and design consultant argues that compelling private-label lines are no longer just a ‘nice to have’

Retailers increasingly see store brands as a strategic way to attract attention, differentiate themselves and cut back on some of the capital expenditures associated with experiential retail, writes Todd Maute, a Partner at brand strategy and design agency CBX, in the March issue of Store Brands magazine.

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Penned before the current crisis, Maute’s column  argues that store brands have become a strategic necessity for major retail chains, which is part of the reason that Macy’s, Walmart, Target, ShopRite, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon, to name a few, have all announced major investments in their private-label lines over the past few months.

“The likes of Kroger, Costco and Walmart are relentlessly driving private-label penetration with savvy approaches to branding, marketing and product development,” writes Maute, who has worked with retail clients across multiple channels of trade, including grocery, drug, mass, pet specialty, consumer electronics, convenience, office supply, home improvement, warehouse clubs and auto parts. “They understand that this translates directly into customer loyalty.”

In recent years, he notes, “experiential” has been the biggest buzzword in retail. While some operators have pulled off successful strategies in this regard, others question the expenses and logistical challenges associated with cultivating Instagram-worthy store design or Nordstrom-level customer service, Maute writes.

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“Offering higher-quality, unique, differentiated and compellingly branded private-label products gives you a reason to focus on the retailer, not the channel,” he explains. “It’s why Best Buy is winning loyalty with its Dynex, Insignia, Rocketfish and Geek Squad brands.”

Since younger shoppers are now agnostic about both national brands and channels of trade, retailers have every reason to invest more in the development, marketing and branding of private-label lines, Maute argues. “In addition to their faster speed to market, retailers control merchandising in their stores. That means they can collaborate with manufacturing, branding and design partners to put their expertly branded and packaged products front-and-center at shelf.”

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