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Package investments that can keep private-label at bay

P&G, Swanson, and McCormick are three brand owners that have invested in better products and packaging. Store brands might be reluctant to copy them.

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Reports of private-label product gains have been capturing much attention during the recession. What can national brands do to stem the tide? Some are reducing prices, but that can erode brand value over time.

Other national brands, however, are fighting back by giving consumers more for their money. Ted Mininni, president of Design Force Inc. a frequent contributor to Shelf Impact!, writes on chiefmarketer.com of several well-known brands that have introduced innovative product and packaging features and structures.

Procter & Gamble has added aromatherapy fragrances to its concentrated Downy fabric softeners. Swanson has enhanced pouring and storage convenience by putting its broths in recloseable-lid cartons rather than cans. McCormick has invested in structural design to help home cooks prepare meals like gourmet chefs without having to purchase a separate grinder.

As Mininni points out, success in competing against private-label products is more likely to occur by making investments such as these, which many retailers could find cost-prohibitive to copy. Just as important, when executed well, these product and packaging upgrades can justify a nationally branded product’s higher price point compared with private-label competitors.

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