Why private labels are Simply Better

Jan 17, 2018

Ten years ago, retail Private Labels were typically regarded as products of a lesser quality, offered at a reduced rate.  Ten years on, the stigma associated with buying Private Labels has faded and the concept is booming.

Retailers have employed a variety of strategies for promoting their Private Label, it is no longer only about reduced prices, some are offering high quality products, improved branding and packaging, and premium pricing, all with tremendous success.

Accounting for over 70% of grocery sales in Europe, Private Labels are disrupting traditional business models. Consumers driving this trend are looking for everyday value. In any retail store consumers are presented with an overwhelming variety of products to choose from and, given that the consumers have already shown loyalty and trust by shopping in the retail store , the Private Label products are able to help them overcome what researchers have termed “the paradox of choice”.  Studies have shown that an excess of choice confounds consumers and reduces the likelihood of buying. When they do buy, they are often left feeling unsatisfied with their purchase, doubting that they made the correct choice. Leading European retailers have understood this dilemma and solved it by giving consumers fewer products to choose from resulting in greater customer satisfaction.

Although the low cost differential approach has proven successful, other retailers have diversified their go-to-market strategies, some have adopted more of a curator style approach where their Private Label represents the best possible quality option for their consumers.

Simply Better

One such example is the multiple award winning Private Label created by the leading Irish premium retailer, Dunnes Stores. In 2013 they launched the Private Label range “Simple Better”. The objective was clear:  focus on quality Irish and authentic products of the highest quality. The brand has been built  on re-establishing the value for authentic products prepared in the traditional manner with an emphasis on the beauty of simplicity.  They have sourced recognisable produce prepared exceptionally well, using high quality ingredients that customers can recognise. This ethos ensures that every element of every product is given the utmost consideration; from the quality, to the provenance, and the variety and production of the product. This is an investment in both time and quality in the pursuit of excellence, making their tag line “Eating good food is a sign of self-respect” evermore relevant.

With the customer very much at the focal point of the products curated, they needed to appropriately engage and educate the customers on the principles of the Simply Better range. To do this, they started working with leading field marketing agency FMI  in 2014 to implement instore food tastings across a number of stores nationwide. But, as you would suspect, it was not just food sampling,  it was an opportunity for Simply Better to engage and delight their customers by sharing in-depth knowledge of each product in their expanding range.  Details such as where the product originates, the quality of ingredients, whether it was produced here in Ireland,  which kitchen or farm it came from, were all shared with their customers, as well as sharing cooking tips in order for the customers to experience the product at its very best, ideally to the level of a restaurant standard where possible.

To deliver this, FMI got together a team of foodie enthusiasts to be brand ambassadors for the Simply Better brand. The team bought into the brand values and their knowledge and passion for knowing where the products came from, pride in how the products are displayed, and pure joy in delivering this to the consumer is visible in how they choose to engage with the customers.

“From the get-go we worked very closely with the head of the Simply Better brand, Diarmuid Murphy. Diarmuid’s attention to detail and vision for how he wanted food tastings to be delivered to the Dunnes Stores consumer was infectious! The sampling experience was no longer just a feeding station, this was now a pure, honest interaction with the consumer. Educating them about what was in their food, where it came from and who made it” Fiona Sharkey , Account Director, FMI.

In 2016, Neven Maguire, an Irish celebrity chef joined the Simply Better team as their brand ambassador. Neven has visited many of the artisan suppliers to meet the people behind the products, giving him an extensive understanding of the production methods, the ingredients and the passion and pride that these artisan producers have.  Most recently Neven travelled to Italy to meet the Italian suppliers to the Simply Better range.  All of his travels are captured in the show “Neven’s Italian Food Trails” for RTE which showcases the finest Italian producers and really brings the process to life.

In a world where food is produced en-masse there is a growing consciousness amongst consumers who want to understand better where their food is coming from. They want to make more informed purchasing decisions for their families and the range of products offered under our Award Winning Simply Better brand give them this reassurance.  Our focus is simple, it is good food done really well, working with Irish and International producers who take great care in what they do…Diarmuid Murphy, Simply Better Brand Manager

With an enviable list of accolades including Ireland’s Golden Fork Award for their Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Great Taste Award, Simply Better really is a home grown success story.

Although branded products still have the advantage over private labels in terms of customer recognition, size of advertising and marketing budgets ,and scale of operations, there is no denying that Private Labels continue to gain momentum and are increasingly becoming a significant market contender. According to LS International the sales of Private Labels rose in 13 of 20 European countries, led by Switzerland (50%) , the UK (46%) and Germany (40%) and this is expected to grow in the coming years.

Private Labels are continually expanding into new and diverse categories,  with this expansion comes growing acceptance by consumers. In the past brands have had the advantage of providing consumers an assurance of quality,  however the likes of Simply Better look set to comfortably fill and exceed in that role.