PL Buyer: Repetition Syndrome
By Kathie Canning
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of a current article from Private Label Buyer, presented here for discussion.
When my husband and I were newlyweds back in the mid-1980s, our Toledo, Ohio, neighborhood was home to a rather fanatical fan of "Let the Music Play," an electro-funk, freestyle song that was a major hit for lady singer Shannon. This particular neighbor blasted that song — and that song only — from his car stereo’s speakers (car windows wide open) as he drove to and from work, to and from the grocery store, to and from his girlfriend’s place … well, you get the picture.
After living through a month or so of this drive-by concert, I came to despise that song. And even after all these years, I never want to hear it again.
You see, too much repetition can turn a person off from even a good thing, whether that good thing be a song, an exercise routine or even a store. Yes, a store.
We’ve all heard much talk about the need for destination-type private label products to set a retailer apart from the competition. But such products also can go a long way to fend off "repetition syndrome," and keep folks coming back for more.
Frequently changed displays and creative merchandising are great, but might not be enough to hold the interest of shoppers, especially newbie store brand aficionados. That national brand equivalent (NBE) pasta sauce might be priced right, but mom probably is getting mighty bored with it by the ninth or tenth purchase. How long will it be before she comes down with repetition syndrome — and seeks out Store X across the street to soothe her symptoms?
Because they stray at least a bit from the national brands’ norms in terms of flavor, formulation, packaging design or another attribute, destination-type products help stave off repetition syndrome. Target is one of several retailers that excels here. (Archer Farms’ Maui Onion Potato Chips, anyone?)
An even better approach calls for frequent jumbling in the lineup of such unique products, through the rotation of different flavors, colors, scents, etc., throughout the year — or through the creation of a handful of limited-time-only offerings. Such a strategy is almost sure to boost shopper enthusiasm for a store.
Although NBE (and value) offerings certainly play an important role in store brand programs (and in many consumers’ budgets), they run the risk of becoming repetitive if they are the only "songs" in the store.
Discussion Questions: To what degree does adding destination-type products to the private label mix help reduce repetition syndrome? Given the quest for value, what’s the best way retailers can keep their private label mix fresh?