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Quality Control

If private brands are to make a name for themselves, the quality has to be there.

That message was delivered loud and clear by multiple speakers at the conference today.

What’s new in this area is that retailers are increasingly going to consumers for feedback.

Take Ahold USA. The retailer recently added a new element to private-label testing. It now brings products under development to the store level and lets shoppers try them, said Melissa Smith-Hanzen, Ahold USA’s director of strategic design for corporate brands.

“The bar has been raised,” Smith-Hanzen told the audience.

The retailer is using the strategy extensively with the redesign of its mid-tier store brands.

“If a product doesn’t meet our quality levels, it won’t fit into the redesign,” she said.

Ahold’s in-store testing is conducted at six stores, two each for Giant-Landover, Giant-Carlise and Stop & Shop.

Such a strategy shows that rigorous professional testing alone is not enough. Consumers have such high expectations when it comes to brand quality that it makes complete sense to get them involved in the product-development process.