BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets here is in the midst of completely revamping its entire line of private-label products, which includes about six labels of Wild Oats and three or four of Henry's Marketplace, Wild Oats' farmers' market division in Southern California and Texas, where the banner is Sun Harvest Market.
The goal is for a consistent label, a new design. "We will have an organic tier and a more value-oriented tier which is all-natural. It won't be the cheapest thing in the store, but having that Wild Oats name on the products is a further extension of the quality and adherence to strict standards," Sonja Tuitele, director of corporate communications, said in an exclusive interview with SN.
The company is looking for additional opportunities to merchandise its brand in other retail environments that could carry a Wild Oats brand.
"It's way off in the distance, and it's because we can't build stores everywhere," she explained.
The first of the new labels will be on shelves in the third quarter, and at first there will be some consolidation as duplicate products are eliminated. There are more than enough mustards now, as one example.
The new line will be phased in through the first half of next year, Tuitele said. After that, Wild Oats will look at adding new products to fill out its private-label line, which now numbers about 145 items.
Right now, its own brand represents 10% of sales, but the company expects by the end of 2005 to grow that to 20%, "like in Europe, where the house brand represents the highest quality," Tuitele said.
The brand is going to be an extension to cover dinner parties and every occasion, she added. A completely new line of private-label vitamin supplements is being worked on this year, too, along a similar time line as the food products, she said.
Down to Earth Value, or DTEV, is just one of six or seven different labels Wild Oats currently has. The chain is aiming for a more coherent strategy behind them, not disjointed as it was when Wild Oats had a black label that indicated premium-quality goods and an international line that was an import. One line had a cartoon look to it that could be for kids but wasn't always a "just for kids" product.
"We want consistency. We want that label to be clean and recognizable," Tuitele said.
It looks cleaner, with more white space, so it really stands out on the shelves, she said, and more information is offered about each product on its label. This could be nutritional information or health benefits statements, and some labels will reflect the new prototype stores' style of hand-painted murals.
The Henry's farmers' market stores' labels will take a nostalgic appearance, "like a 1950s postcard, with everything bright, light like a halo behind it, blue sky and bright colors," she said.