NATIONAL BRAND NETWORK SEEKING STEADY GROWTH

WASHINGTON -- The National Brand Network aims to add three or four members a year, according to Bryan Sinner, manager of the program for Shurfine International, Northlake, Ill.This pace would ensure steady growth for the 25-member network, he told Brand Marketing at the annual convention here of the private-label procurement and marketing company. NBN consists of national brand manufacturers that

WASHINGTON -- The National Brand Network aims to add three or four members a year, according to Bryan Sinner, manager of the program for Shurfine International, Northlake, Ill.

This pace would ensure steady growth for the 25-member network, he told Brand Marketing at the annual convention here of the private-label procurement and marketing company. NBN consists of national brand manufacturers that sell their products to Shurfine members, which are mainly mid-sized wholesalers that supply independent supermarket operators. In a presentation at the convention, Sinner said Shurfine gets involved with national brands "to keep retailers and distribution centers competitive in the marketplace. Although private-label penetration continues to grow at retail and is projected to reach 40% by the year 2005, we realize that we need to help our retailers throughout the store and help them bring value to the customer. "While private-label penetration continues to grow in our retail stores, many customers purchase national brand products. The National Brand Network goal is to bring that national brand consumer into our retail stores and away from their competitors down the street," he said. Sinner said the key to NBN's success has been a "working-together attitude" among Shurfine, its customers and manufacturers, all focused on the same goal of moving more cases of products. Joining Sinner at the presentation was an executive from Lever Bros. who explained why network membership makes sense for his company. Donald Eckers, senior manager of trade development, said that Lever works with Shurfine "because it gives Lever Bros. an opportunity to work with 42 warehouses throughout the United States that supply more than 22,000 retail stores. When we put all of Shurfine's owning customers' volume under one umbrella, they represent over 2% of Lever Bros. total sales and become our 11th largest customer and our seventh largest customer in the grocery industry. "With this volume and the amount of customers I can reach through the network, it makes sense for Lever to be a part of the National Brand Network," said Eckers.

Partners in the network increase case movement jointly in several ways, including bulk purchases, various incentive and promotional programs, and cross-coupon tie-ins. The last program involves coupons for national brands on Shurfine products, and vice versa.

"The cross coupons are successful, with an average of 9% of the coupons being redeemed," said Sinner.