PLMA recently held its annual convention in Chicago and I had the opportunity to once again attend and walk the floor. While we all know that private label continues to grow and become a larger part of a retailer’s visit, a study of the show truly reveals just how far private label has come, moving from the early days of price driven “me-too” products to a spectacular showcase of innovation. This was evident moving booth to booth where specialty gourmet products, lifestyle natural and organic products, and great looking and tasting frozen entrees and desserts were in abundant display. It’s clear that the limitations on where private label can go are only limited by a retailer’s imagination.
My favorite spot to cheat and see a number of trends at once is the area PLMA calls the Idea Supermarket. There, they have catalogued examples of private label food collections from leading retailers around the world in one spot. You can not only see where product trends are occurring but also where packaging and design trends are evolving. Some of my favorites included:
• Consumer endorsed private label lines from the U.K. They explicitly state on the box that they’ve been customer tested. A kid’s line from Asda states that it’s been “Chosen by Kids and Approved by Mums” while another line from Sainsbury has been “taste tested by customers.”
• Health is moving mainstream. There were multiple great examples of the growing importance of health driven or benefits driven products. We see that already with Kroger’s Simple Truth, Target’s Simply Balanced and Safeway’s Eating Right. But, they also showed some intriguing products like Marks & Spencer’s Guilt Free Snacking Line and Aldi’s Simply Nature line which they now have extended to kid’s products. And, of course, lots of attention is being paid to gluten free and there was a great looking line from Sobeys in Canada.
• Value reimagined. The opening price point tier, or value private label ranges are being re-imagined, re-named and re-packaged from their generic roots. Kroger is rolling out P$$T to replace value while bringing fun to the shelf.
• Meal solutions everywhere. There was abundant creativity in meals and desserts, from celebrity collaboration (Sobeys and Jamie Oliver) to mix and match meal creations (Target’s Archer Farms).
The best part of PLMA is that it’s a show without much pretense. The booths aren’t fancy — this is about products and ideas and that’s why it continues to grow (record attendance this year) and maintain its relevance.
Where do you see private label headed?