Great Retailing Ideas Stopped at Border

Discussion
Jun 13, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson


In his May Warren’s Wanderings column in Private Label Buyer, Warren Thayer offers a theory that may explain why great retailing ideas from Canadian merchants such as Loblaw’s rarely seem to make their way down to the US.


“Apparently most of their (Loblaw’s) good ideas are stopped at the border by US Customs, and secretly, magically removed from baggage and brains. Otherwise, I can think of no plausible explanation why this chain’s brilliance isn’t more often copied here.”


While there has yet to be independent verification of Mr. Thayer’s theory, questions remain on the apparent embargo American retailers have placed on ideas imported from Canada.


Contemporary retailing wisdom in the US is big on co-branding between retailers. Whether its Toys R Us in Albertsons, Starbucks in Target or Krispy Kreme in Quik-Check, co-branding arrangements are often the innovation du jour.


Loblaw’s has decided on another route.


The industry consultant, Ted Zittell told Mr. Thayer, Loblaw’s has been adding departments for various categories in its stores with its President’s Choice brand at the center of its efforts. Consumers are now able to find “segment-specific sections for not just food but for children’s clothing, office supplies, cosmetics, electronics, bath, bed and kitchen. All under Loblaws’ store brands, including a couple new ones they’ve created recently.”


Moderator’s Comment: What can American retailers learn
from Loblaw’s experience and innovations? Compare the benefits and drawbacks
of co-branding arrangements versus store branding Loblaw’s-style?


We’ve always followed the theory that co-branding or name-brand
franchising reduces the risk associated with the venture. On the other hand,
creating your own brand offers a much greater upside. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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