While the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) moves forward with its plans to boost its private label brands, Robin VanDenabeele has joined the team as director of IGA Exclusive Brands, overseeing redesign, product development and marketing.
VanDenabeele has spent the last four years with Midwest natural/organic grocery chain Fresh Thyme Market, where she launched a more-than-1,800 SKU private label brand that earned 30 artistic awards and generated over $100 million in sales across just 77 plus stores. Previously she worked for Topco on a $215 million portfolio of food sauces, and Symphony/IRI, where she focused on market research and analytics for national chains like Walgreens and Target.
VanDenabeele joins the IGA team during a systematic research process that began nearly a year ago with analysis of IGA Exclusive Brands’ quality, shopper interest, design, marketing and range of offerings, and is now nearing conclusion with design and testing of a new label — its first redesign in over 10 years.
“Our customer research revealed that IGA Exclusive Brand gets extremely high marks from shoppers when it relates to quality, trust and shopper interest, but the look of the label is where we fall short,” said IGA CEO John Ross. “Now we’re working to align the quality and reputation of our brand with the look and feel of a modern, innovative product line that resonates with our new Local Equals Fresh marketing and merchandising platform. Robin’s extensive experience in private label design combined with her background in analytics, market research, and category management give us the expertise we need to breathe new life into the IGA Exclusive Brand line with both a new look and new offerings.”
IGA tapped Greg Corey of Porchlight, an Atlanta-based retail design firm, to work with the team to create a fresh, modern look for the brand that would capture IGA's mission and commitment to local, fresh and high-quality products.
Corey and the IGA team prioritized IGA's "Local Equals Fresh" strategy. "It's not just the words," Corey says. "We had to figure out a way to visually communicate this so that when a consumer is shopping for these packages, that they believe and see and understand that without necessarily having to explain it."
The shopper research drove the team to create a brand mission for the product line, focusing on repositioning IGA as "one of the best products on the shelf at any cost," not just in IGA stores, but everywhere.
The new look delivers strong IGA branding and correlates with the new in-store signage and marketing. Porchlight kept the recognizable IGA logo and the attention-grabbing red colors. The farm imagery, which conveys the fresh and local focus, received an update, too. There is more emphasis on product photography and clear, appealing images. The packaging and photography recall shopping at the farmers market, picking out fresh fruits and vegetables and putting them in a brown paper bag.
“Connecting with the consumer on an emotional level while creating a rewarding brand experience is our top priority," said VanDenabeele. "Our goal is to reignite the IGA brand and get consumers to fill their pantries with all things IGA. To achieve this, we need to focus on household staples, while staying ahead of emerging trends to ensure our products are relevant to our customers.”
According to Ross, there is still another round of research that will establish how the new design stands out as a set in the store, but the goal is to launch the new branding through a core number of SKUs this summer. The launch will include social media, television, blogs, food contests, and updated signage for store kits. "We're not marketing this like a private label," he said. "We're going to market this like a national brand."