PL Buyer: Publix’s Private Label Followers
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary
of part of a current article from Private Label Buyer, presented here
Publix, one of the first supermarket chains in the Southeast, is changing
the way people feel about private label goods. In fact, it’s been said that
some Floridians have even been spotted shopping at Walmart with their reusable
Publix shopping bags because they want to be known as Publix shoppers — it’s
considered a status symbol of sorts.
Publix first launched its redesigned Publix brand private label packaging
in 2003, offering a clean, simple and predominately white design system across
all the products within the Publix brand category. The previous design was
very similar to other retailers’ private brands; the products looked very similar
to the national brand equivalent and blended in with other items on the shelf.
"The primary goal of the redesign was to improve our private label sales," said
Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix. "The
new design made our products easier to see on the shelf and, in many cases,
customers noticed our store brand products for the first time. The natural
response was that we were adding more private label items and discontinuing
other items. We were expanding our lineup from about 1,200 items to over 3,000
items over a six-year period, but it was surprising to see how many calls we
had related to private label items that we had on the shelf for years before
The program also employs a two-tier private label approach that include its
basic Publix brand and its Publix Premium label. Plus, it has launched a specialty
private label brand, GreenWise, which appeals to shoppers seeking natural and
organic options, and also is targeting Hispanic shoppers with offerings within
its Publix brand. The result has been private label sales that account for
20 percent of all Publix sales.
"Publix has a good, better, best approach which allows customers to trade
up while also realizing improved value," says Kevin Sterneckert, research
director for Gartner Inc. "So a customer, who used to buy a leading brand
can of beans, can now buy the Publix brand can of beans and receive the same
or better quality at a better price. I think that consumers who were forced
to seek out lower-priced alternatives have been pleasantly surprised at the
quality that Publix has been delivering for a long time."
Publix also has been much quicker and bolder than its competitors in terms
of promoting its private label products, says Natalie Berg, global research
director of London-based research firm Planet Retail. "A great example
of this is its Publix store brand challenge which gave away a private label
product for free when shoppers bought a national brand product. This was the
ultimate testament to quality and shoppers had nothing to lose since the private
label products were free."
The program was launched four years ago and is still in place today.
Discussion Questions: What do you think has been the key to Publix’s success in private label? What lessons does Publix offer others pursuing success with private label products?