Photo: Continente ‘White products’ (1970s).
Deriving its popular name from the colour of the product packaging, the white label is quite often associated with the idea of a âcheapâ product or a simple âlabelâ. Nevertheless, far away are the first launches in Europe âin the mid 70âsâ from the current path that has been undertaken by the Retail brand. In fact, this brand can have as much meaning and appeal as any other; but enjoying the privilege of relying on the best multi-sensory medium for branding: the store.
According to Nielsen, last year in Spain those who do the grocery shopping spent a fourth of their budgets on brands owned by retail firms (FIR) (1). A figure that has not ceased to increase each year.
Additionally, there are organizations âlike Promarcaâ whose mission is to protect and to develop the brands of its partners, prestigious suppliers who are quite worried about the market share that these brands are acquiring.
Although there are historic precedents of white labels, such as Sainsbury (2) in 1869, the authentic debut of the trend took place in France in the mid 70s. It started when âContinenteâ launched a few generic products with white packaging, known as âWhite productsâ; these were very cheap because customers were ânot paying for the brand.â In 1976 its competitor Carrefour launched the so-called âFree productsâ (in the photography of the top), positioned as: âWithout a name. Just as good. Less expensiveâ. Coincidence or not, Carrefourâs packaging also had a white background. These perhaps was the source of the colloquial term âwhite labelâ.
What is your name?
Modern neurobiology has discovered that the way we speak affects our way of thinking, much more than the other way around. Therefore, I suggest to review the names that have been given to this phenomenon through the time.
We have already mentioned the term âwhite labelâ, perhaps too naĂŻf and looking more to the past than to the possible future strategic developments.
The AMA (American Marketing Association), a world marketing reference, offers the synonyms: âPrivate labelâ and âStore brandâ. It says that such a brand is the property of those who resell products, instead of those who produce them. Sometimes âAMA claimsâ the term is associated with a brand that is not advertised and that does not become a national brand. Curiously, the AMA does not use the term âRetail brandâ.
Since in Europe there is an increasing trend to call them âDistribuitorâs brandâ (DB), I shall use this term from now on to refere to these products.
Observations from a different angle
I understand that the DB is a registered trademark, applied to products whose positioning is controlled by the FIR. But I would also like to acknowledge what I do not mention in the previous concept:
* That DB is sold exclusively in the points of sales of the FIR.
* That it ought to be simply a “label” or logo.
* That its positioning should be associated with concepts such as price, quality, etc.
What is clear is that we are talking about a brand that is used and controlled by a FIR. Therefore, not only the products of Carrefour are considered DB, but also those of Desigual, Zara, Imaginarium, and Valentine. Even Nespresso (by NestlĂ©) or Pondâs (by Unilever) are retail brands, as well as those owned by sports clubs like the Real Madrid or BarĂ§a, because all these firms sell directly to the public.
Another example of a retail brand is La Bruixa dâOr -The Gold Witch- (in the photography of the left), the leader of lottery retailing in Spain. Their tickets are not only sold at a price higher than the one specified by the supplier sometimes, but they are also being resold by other retail companies.
THE RETAIL BRAND CAN BE A BRAND
OR A SIMPLE LABEL, IN THE SAME WAY
THAT A SUPPLIER BRAND COULD
It seems logical to conclude that a retail brand might be neither a cheaper product nor necessarily an imitation. A DB can be based on innovation, it can have emotional connotations, a higher price than that of the supplier, and it can even be sold by third parties.
Certainly, it can be as much of a brand (or a simple label) as any other supplier brands. Yet, the best Brand in Retailing is when the chain itself is a brand,âŠ even if it does not put its brand on the products.
Source: DistribuciĂłn Actualidad, the spanish magazine of retail
(nÂș 384, December 2007)
1 Previously, the author has reasoned that the term âFirm in Retailing (FIR)â is more appropriate than the terms “retailer” or âdistributorâ (please see November 2007 publication).
2 Source: www.fcd.asso.fr