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Store Brands identifies the most innovative new products in the field

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Kat Chin is the Sr. Director for Own Brands Strategic Sourcing. She leads our Own Brands Sourcing Team responsible of identifying, negotiating and managing spend of over $5 Billion annually. Kat has been with the company for 15 years and has held a variety of roles across Strategic Sourcing.

Robert Bishop is the Sr. Sales Development Manager for Own Brands. As a key liaison between suppliers, the self-manufacturing team, and innovation teams he is responsible for creating the promotional plans that bring Albertsons own brands to life. Robert has been with the company for nearly 20 years and has held a variety of roles across the organization, which includes almost 9 years of store level experience.

Jenna Huynh has been with the company for 2 years as a Product Development Technologist on the Own Brands’ Main Meal/Main Meal Ingredients team. In her role, she utilizes her food science background to manage product evaluations and specifications for centerstore products such as oils, coffees/ teas, baking mixes, and more shelfstable food items.


Rising Stars

Jessica Sakino is the Sourcing Manager for Own Brands Meals and Ingredients. Jessica is responsible for cost management, contracts and ensuring supply across ~100 categories while partnering with ~185 suppliers. She started with the company 6 years ago on the Food Safety team.

Joren Salazar uses his food science background to develop product prototypes within dairy manufacturing for Albertsons’ own brands, and he’s been able to scale-up new dairy and nondairy products to energize a static dairy category. Joren has led milestones within the new product development process such as sourcing and qualifying new ingredients, developing approved prototypes, overseeing production trials, creating specifications, and approving production of several new items.


Christina Hudson is a Sales Manager for Own Brands. As a part of the Sales Team, she helps drive innovation, growth, sales, and volume within the divisions she supports. Christina has been with the Own Brands team only 7 months, but her career with the company has spanned 17 years and she has held a variety of roles within the organization during that time.

Own Brands Associates

Elizabeth Guthrie is the Own Brands Director of Product Management for General Merchandise, Home, Health, Beauty & Pet Care, and has been with Own Brands for 10 years. Elizabeth manages the portfolio and innovation for ~1,500 skus across +150 categories, primarily in the nonfood space within Albertsons Companies stores.

Locally Great Nationally Strong


Winner of 2020 STOREBRANDS Editor’s Pick Best New Products

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8/6/20 2:05 PM



Editor’s Note


Industry News




Dispatches: Store Brands in the Wild




Editors’ Picks 2020 Store Brands’ annual spotlight on the products that stood out for their innovation and quality in the past year


Rising Stars in Private Label Shining a light on the accomplishments of more than 40 people making waves in the private label industry


Walmart Harts Hardware The retailer is getting serious about the category, working with Techtronic Industries to launch an extensive line of products aimed at the DIY crowd

Store Brands (ISSN-0190-9851; USPS # 0488-370) is published 9x a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscriptions: One year, $110; two years, $200. One year, Canada $130; two years, $235 One year, foreign $150; two years, $285. One year single US,$14; one year, Canada, foreign, $16. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a US bank in US funds.Single copies $20. Foreign, $85. Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at or (877) 652-5295. Canada Post: Canada returns to be sent to IDS, P.O. Box 456, Niagara Falls, ON, L2E6V2. Periodicals postage rates paid at Deerfield, IL and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: send all address changes to Store Brands PO Box 3200 Northbrook, IL 60065-3200. Copyright 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48106. The contents of this publication can not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for claims and representations. 4

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TIME TO SHINE VALUE-FOCUSED SHOPPERS AND RISING PRICES ON NATIONAL BRANDS OFFER PRIVATE LABEL A CHANCE TO GROW ITS CONSUMER BASE “From my angle, at least, this might be private label’s best chance to make a lasting impact with consumers in a generation.” Those words of wisdom did not come from a private label or store brand supplier. Nor can they be attributed to a retailer, many of whom are using private label to gain market share and consumer loyalty. Instead, they were uttered by the vice president of marketing for a major consumer products company, a firm that spends a great deal of money convincing consumers that they should pay a little more for a brand that they are familiar with and trust. Seth Mendelson But these are not normal times. The COVID-19 pandemic Publisher/ has changed much over the last five months and promises Editor in Chief to change even more over the next months and even years, whether there is a vaccine or plausible treatment or not. In stores, the pandemic has played a huge role in the increasing cost of just about everything sold at mass retail, from eggs and milk to meat and produce and even chocolate chip cookies. Prices are increasPrices are increasing ing at retail at a steady clip and the result is a harried and conat retail at a steady clip and the consumer who is looking result is a harried and concerned cerned to do more with less money in a consumer who is looking to hectic time period. do more with less money. With unemployment at double-digit levels, virtually every consumer worried about making ends meet and no end in sight to this pandemic, shoppers want as many alternatives as possible when deciding what to buy. National brands are stuck. High manufacturing costs and locked-in margin guarantees mean that companies cannot lower price points to satisfy the shopper today. But private brands can make a difference. Lower price points, with the promise and delivery of quality merchandise, will help many consumers fill their shopping basket and keep their food budget in line. The onus, however, is on the private label and store brand community. Consumers are looking for options. It is our responsibility and duty to give them these choices and to show them that they are not only saving money on store brand items, but they are getting a quality product that will barely register as different with their families at the dinner table. Private label has a great chance to build recognition, market share and loyalty. Let’s not blow the chance. 6

Store Brands

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July/August 2020

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The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

8/6/20 3:36 PM

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8/6/20 2:07 PM

Jason Hart Talks Aldi’s Growth In July, Aldi announced 70 more stores to hit the U.S. this year, including a new market in Arizona, welcoming the retailer to its 37th state. The growth tipped the discount grocer passed more than 2,000 stores across the United States. It’s big news to be growing at a time when some sectors of retail are struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yet Aldi is moving forward, and maintaining its value promise. The retailer also announced that for the 10th year running it has been named the “Value Leader” in the Market Force Information Grocery Benchmark Study. Store Brands asked Aldi U.S. CEO Jason Hart about what it means to grow in today’s landscape.

Store Brands: Aldi’s growth is tremendous, what does it mean to the company to maintain such speed of growth during a time of uncertainty? Jason Hart: Opening new stores enables us to support more customers in more communities, which we’re always

proud to do, and especially during this time of uncertainty. We feel fortunate that the pandemic has not slowed our expansion plans and we credit our unique business model for that. Aldi remains on track to becoming the third-largest U.S. grocery retailer by store count by the end of 2022 and our pledge is to do everything in our power to continue to offer shoppers the lowest prices possible on the foods they want and need, and that’s a responsibility we do not take lightly.

SB: What impact does store growth have on Aldi’s process of ramping up products, working with supplier partners and adding new products to fit new market tastes?

Dr. Reddy’s Readies Store Brand Nicorette Lozenges There’s a new option hitting the market for retailers looking for a private brand nicotine lozenge for consumers quitting smoking. Dr. Reddy’s Labs has unveiled its private label equivalent of Nicorette Lozenges, nicotine polacrilex lozenges, in 2 mg and 4 mg dosage strengths. The product will look to tap into 8

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the roughly $200 million in sales that IRI data says the branded product pulled in for the 52 weeks ended May 17. The product is offered in multiple pack sizes in both dosage strengths to meet consumers’ needs, Dr. Reddy’s said. “The launch of nicotine polacrilex lozenges represents our continuing

JH: Expanding our store count means deepening existing supplier relationships and establishing new ones, when needed. We have many suppliers that have grown together with Aldi over the past 40 years and we look for partners who are interested in growing with us. From coast to coast, we are always looking for new supplier partners who can help us meet our growth needs in support of our business expansion.

SB: What are you looking for from supplier partners in the private brand industry to help you along this growth path? JH: Our suppliers play a critical role in the success of our organization. As we continue our relationships with our current supply base, and work to bring new suppliers into our business, our suppliers are true partners in terms of developing innovative products, removing costs from the supply chain, and keeping a consistent focus on quality to ensure our products always deliver the experience our customers expect. We partner with some of the best suppliers in the industry, who consistently deliver us industryleading service. We are grateful to all of our partners, new and tenured, who have weathered these past few months of global uncertainty by our side with excellence. commitment to the OTC category of smoking cessation,” said Mark Kikuchi, Dr. Reddy’s CEO of North American Generics. “Nicotine polacrilex lozenges are an important addition to our current offering of nicotine replacement therapy including nicotine transdermal system patches, sold as Habitrol brand and various store brands. This launch truly demonstrates our ability to deliver on more complex dosage forms for the benefit of consumers who wish to quit smoking by reducing withdrawal symptoms, including nicotine cravings.”

8/6/20 1:36 PM

INDUSTRY AWARDS PROGRAM Drug Store News is proud to recognize, celebrate and honor women making outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry. More than 140 women were honored November 2019 at the inaugural Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty event and gala. Winners were awarded in the categories of Career Achievement, Business Excellence, Commitment to Care and Rising Stars.

Who will be honored in 2020? Visit www.dsntopwomen for updates on timing for nomination opening in the spring and details on the gala event in the fall of 2020.

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Pilot Finds Plant-based Meats Sell Better With Meat Merchandisers may want to make room for meat substitutes in their meat aisles based on data collected by Kroger and the Plant Based Foods Association. The two partnered to test the impact of meat aisle placement on plant-based meat sales — particularly among new plant-based substitutes that have traditionally been stocked in the vegan section. Sales jumped by double digits. The test began in December, when Kroger created a dedicated plantbased meat section in 60 stores that was accompanied by large Simple Truth signage, though the test was not exclusively focused on Kroger’s store brands, representatives of Kroger’s analytics arm, 84.51°, told Store Brands. Though plant-based brands like Beyond Meat, Pure Farmland and Lightlife had been selling their patties and crumbles in the meat department, the test was aimed at testing how products like lunchmeat, hot dogs and bacon performed when stocked near their meat-based doppelgangers. 84.51° conducted the test, which included shopper interviews and emails, education for store personnel, audits and sales analysis. The control test of the section ran from December 2019 through February, comparing 60 stores in Colorado, Indiana and Illinois with a plant-based section in the meat department compared to stores without. Sales of the plant-based substitutes increased by 23% when sold in the meat department. By region, the Illinois and Indiana stores (areas known to be less adaptive to plant-based meats) saw a sales increase of 32% and Denver stores (an area already farther into the trend) saw an increase of 13%. “This test provides one more proof point that plant-based meats have moved from niche to mainstream,” said Sean Brislin, merchandising di10

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rector at Kroger “Kroger continues to experience double-digit growth in the plant-based category, and this test demonstrates the viability of shifting product placements to reach even more customers. We thank the Plant Based Foods Association for partnering with us on this insightful merchandising research project.” Kroger said during the months of March through June, peak pandemic, the retailer expanded its plantbased meat customer count by more than 50% compared to last year at

this time. Additionally, customers purchased more often and in greater quantities to register a sales spike of more than 75% during the period. Kroger’s sales trend were in line with that of total U.S. plant-based foods gains, per a PBFA/Spins study showing plantbased meat sales growing 61% through the end of April, and plant-based meat sales up 148% year over year. “This research proves that it is important for retailers to place plantbased meat where shoppers expect to find it: in the meat department. Other retailers are sure to make this change with this new data in hand,” said Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at the San Franciscobased PBFA.

Sales of plant-based substitutes like hot dogs and lunchmeat increased

when sold in the meat department.

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Catalina Shares Store Brand Wake Up Call Though the pandemic has brought store brands roughly 75 million new shoppers, national brands are once again investing in promotions and the gains private brands made has all but disappeared, according to new insights from Catalina. “The pandemic created a decade’s worth of trial in a few weeks,” said Wes Bean, senior vice president of Catalina’s U.S. retail network. “As the predicted recession sets in, retailer private brands need to start behaving like national brands, leaning into marketing across channels to promote the value of these products and the innovative portfolios they’ve developed. One-off campaigns won’t win the day.” Catalina’s insights suggest that there is particular opportunity among families with young children, bakers and breakfast makers, and natural and organic seekers, with the last group offering the biggest opportunity. The firm’s research has found that “strong” and “very strong” natural and organic seekers have been attracted to private brands for the first time. Additionally, there are opportunities around baby needs, with baby clothes and accessories seeing huge growth among existing and new private brand shoppers. “New shopping habits and tighter wallets require closer integration with an investment in marketing communication to drive loyalty with these new private brand shoppers,” Bean said. “This isn’t a case of pulling out the 2008 Recession playbook and hitting repeat.” The shopper intelligence company noted that there are five ways retailers can focus on their private brands to keep their new consumers coming back, particularly among value shoppers in an uncertain economy: Thinking strategically about marketing, building 1-to-1 conversations along the shopping journey, reminding new buyers of relevant private brand products throughout a portfolio, setting specific growth goals for private brands, and knowing the underlying household preferences and behaviors driving potential buyers’ interest and repeat participation. The firm also highlighted how making their private brands into lifestyle brands can make a big difference in terms of consumer interest.

This isn’t a case of pulling out the 2008 Recession playbook and hitting repeat.


Store Brands

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Albertsons Scoops Up Ice Cream Innovation Albertsons has launched new flavors of ice cream under its Signature Select line and introduced a range of nondairy, plant-based flavors under its innovative Open Nature brand. In all, 13 new store brand products hit stores and the flavors are bold. Signature Select launched a Cinnamon Churro Ice Cream with Honey Bun Swirl (with chunks of cinnamon churro), a Lemon Cheesecake ice cream (with pieces of real lemon cheesecake), a Unicorn Cotton Candy ice cream (a colorful bowl of cotton candy-flavored ice cream with sprinkles) and a Black Raspberry Chip (swirls of raspberry and dark chocolate chips). Albertsons’ Signature store brand is not scooping up standard ice cream fare, but premium, unique flavors. Similarly, Publix rolled out unique ice cream flavors and Waitrose issued some new ice cream flavors for the summer to add to the trend. “We’re passionate about innovating based on shoppers’ needs, desires and the latest consumer trends. With these new items, we delivered something to surprise and delight every customer,” said Chad Coester, senior vice president of own brands. “Our new ice creams and frozen desserts give a spoonful of satisfaction and excitement with each bite. And we can all use a little fun.” The nine new Open Nature ice creams include sorbets in strawberry, peach and passion fruit flavors; three Open Nature Oat Non-Dairy ice creams; and three Open Nature Coconut Non-Dairy ice creams. The plant-based, nondairy desserts are made with oat but have their own unique flavors like vanilla caramel, oatmeal cookie, and blueberry oatmeal crumble. The coconut nondairy flavors include peanut butter chip, chocolate salted caramel and toasted coconut.

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Olde Thompson Acquisition Makes it Largest Private Brand Spice Company With Olde Thompson’s latest acquisition it now is the largest private label spice company. The spices and seasonings company has acquired Gel Spice, an importer and manufacturer of spices, seasonings and bakery ingredients for retail and foodservice. With the addition of Bayonne, N.J-based Gel Spice, Olde Thompson, based in Oxnard, Calif., becomes a bi-coastal manufacturer, unlocking a new channel in foodservice and expanding the company’s product offering into pouches, extracts and single-serve seasonings for meal kits and more. Olde Thompson is a portfolio company of Kainos Capital, a private-equity firm focused on the food and CPG industries. Kainos especially specializes in family-owned businesses or family-founded businesses where it can impart sales development, manufacturing and supply chain expertise.

“Olde Thompson is thrilled to partner with Gel to expand our platform,” says Jeff Shumway, CEO of Olde Thompson. “Through the addition of Gel and the combination of our sales forces, we broaden our reach by adding customers within the retail, foodservice, bakery, industrial and export channels while also increasing our product offerings to include dry mixes, extracts and single-serve seasonings for meal kits. We are now the largest private label-focused spice company dedicated to providing complete category solutions.” In the acquisition, Gel Spice CEO David Sugarman becomes co-CEO of Olde Thompson. He said the combination of the companies will enable Gel to better serve customers with an extensive organic spice portfolio and glass bottling capabilities. “With two SQF Level 2 facilities located on each coast, we are now able to provide more efficient distribution and redundant supply to our customers,” Sugarman said.

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July/August 2020


Store Brands


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RISKS, REWARDS THAT COME WITH PRIVATE BRAND GROWTH Findings from Oracle’s studies on private label and how to manage them in uncertain times

Paul Woodward, retail strategy and solutions management, Oracle


alk into any grocery store and chances are you are seeing more prevalent availability of private label brands. According to Oracle’s “Private Label in North America” report, the private label dollar volume within the mass retail channel increased more than 41%, from $43.1 billion in 2013 to $60.8 billion in 2018. In the age of transparency and traceability, establishing and cultivating trust is vital to the growth and sustainability of a brand’s private label products. According to Oracle’s “Setting the Bar” study, 47% of consumers are more likely to trust emerging brands if they are honest and authentic. In a time of increased customer expectations and supply chain complexity, the stakes are high to get the process right. When weighing the pros and cons of private label, retailers may be overwhelmed with making a decision that may or may not be lucrative for them in the long run. With over 25 years in the industry, I have a deep perspective on the risks and rewards of private labels. As your brand is entering or looking to evolve with private labels, here are some factors you should consider:


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Opportunities are plentiful in the private label industry. According to a recent Nielsen report, in 2019, the market share for private labels increased in 12 out of 19 countries and reached 30% or more in 17 countries. However, at 18%, the United States is trailing the likes of the UK and Australia. The U.S. opportunity could translate into revenue for retailers via private brands that can garner 25-30% higher margins than branded products. There is also long-term potential in private labeling through the value of loyal customers. According to an Oracle study, 53% of consumers turn to specific stores exclusively for their private label products. This can lead to brand loyalists over time, as 40% of shoppers usually continue to stay with brands they like rather than try new ones. Today’s shoppers want to know everything about the products that they’re investing in. Almost three-quarters of consumers value transparency about product details as important. While considering private labels, it’s important to understand that more than half of consumers care just as much about transparency, brand sustainability and ethics as they do the product. To fully comply with these high demands, brands need accurate

information about not just their private label products, but their respective ingredients and suppliers, in order to provide full transparency. Reputation Matters Enticing consumers is important when establishing private label products, but staying true to brand promises and upholding a good reputation are imperative. Forty-three percent of shoppers are loyal to brands that they think highly of, indicating that consumers have no problem with shifting gears and buying other private label or name brands that align with their expectations. Honesty also is essential to reputation, and brands must be mindful of how products are marketed. Mislabeling of products can be detrimental to a brand and can even result in litigation. Lawsuits against food and beverage brands were up 9% in 2018, and are expected to increase. In these uncertain times, brands have even more reason to collaborate with their suppliers and partners. Even in the face of closed borders and persistent stockouts, consumer expectations remain the same, and retailers must maintain their high standards. With a virtual rolodex of their supply chain partners across products and categories on hand, grocers can rapidly expand their private label supply networks and identify alternate suppliers to help them keep pace with new waves in consumer demand. As retailers and brands incorporate new private labels or refine existing ones, making an informed decision and utilizing the right technology is integral for success. Putting the right tools in place to capture and manage granular sourcing and supplier data will provide brands with complete visibility into the supply chain, allowing them to offer customers the transparency they demand and deserve. Retailers and brands will rest assured knowing that their private label products and supply chain are accurate and every reward will be greater than any risk.

8/6/20 11:26 PM


PUSHING PRIVATE BRANDS IN THE NEW NORMAL How store brands can accelerate growth during the COVID-19 pandemic

Aimee Becker, senior vice president of strategic advisory, Daymon


rivate Brands are seeing unprecedented sales during the COVID-19 crisis, with many asking if it will last and how to maintain the momentum. While we have experienced this tremendous growth from new private brand trial, we cannot ignore that before COVID-19 private brands were seeing growth among shoppers as true brand solutions. More than half of shoppers said they picked a store specifically for its private brand offerings — 89% reported that they trust private brands as much as the national brand, while 86% viewed private brand quality as equal or better than national brands. As we think about the “new normal,” or life after COVID-19, we know that social distancing, increased digital engagement and the changing economy give retailers the opportunity to continue to drive consumer engagement with private brands in a new way. The pandemic will continue to impact shopping and food consumption habits, making the home the center of eating and entertaining. With nearly 60% of shoppers reporting that they plan to eat at home more often, and only 25% expecting to eat out as frequently as they did before, shoppers will be seeking in-

spiration and meal solutions. To engage shoppers, and to make their daily routines and homemade meals more exciting, retailers need to continue driving innovation across categories that will matter for consumers going forward. First, retailers should continue product development in trend-driven categories that were seeing growth pre-COVID, such as plant-based or healthy snacking. Even with tighter budgets, consumers still have these needs. Continued innovation is necessary to ensure you keep pace with the competition including national brands. In addition to these general needs, retailers must also focus on newly relevant categories seeing high growth due to shifting consumers. The baking category, for example, continues to experience growth with consumers expressing newfound interest in experimenting with baked treats. Retailers can benefit from this baking surge by providing a range of innovative options for all baking needs. Other categories to drive innovation include everyday cooking solutions, as well as valueadded produce and salty snacks. As consumers seek to reduce their exposure to others outside the home, they have flocked to digital shopping services in massive numbers — with plans to continue this shopping behavior for the foreseeable future.

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torically, private brands have not been well represented online and often get lost in digital formats. Retailers should take advantage of this new behavior by incorporating private brands at the forefront of their digital solutions. At a minimum, private brands should receive dedicated space across digital platforms to educate consumers on their purpose and benefits beyond just items and price points. Additionally, private brands should lead in search and where possible link to solutions or shopper needs. This will illustrate the program’s point of difference and drive connection with shoppers. Behind all this, we must remember that private brands play an important role in supporting our shoppers as they look to stretch their budget. We are, unfortunately, entering one of the largest economic downturns in history, with roughly one-third of U.S. families affected financially. During the 2008 recession, 76% of private brand categories experienced growth. During the pandemic so far, private brand sales have increased 34%, outpacing national brands. The value of private brands is resonating with consumers as they look for alternative solutions. While consumers will likely continue shopping on a budget post-COVID19, they will want to retain a sense of normalcy by purchasing household favorites. Retailers’ private brand communication efforts must center around the benefits of private brands beyond just savings, such as better quality, unique offerings and innovative items. Retailers should also leverage private brands to inspire consumers such as through activities, demonstrations and other engagement opportunities beyond the products themselves. Private brands are well sssspositioned for continued success in the “new normal.” By focusing private brand priorities on accelerating innovation, leading in digital solutions and reinforcing a value proposition with shoppers, retailers can drive further brand connectivity and sales, while cultivating deeper banner loyalty. ●

July/August 2020

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8/6/20 11:27 PM

By Dan Ochwat

Innovation FORWARD Spanning several food, nonfood and beverage categories, these are the most noteworthy private label products to hit the market Editors’ Picks has a new feel this year. Particularly in a COVID-19 retail crisis, the Store Brands staff decided it better to not have manufacturers and retailers send products through the mail for a taste test. Instead, editors culled through hundreds of product entries, and read through recent product news coverage over a qualifying 15-month period.


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8/6/20 3:40 PM

Congratulations on 19 Editor’s Picks Best New Products!

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Our mission was to focus on innovation in a truly booming industry. Consider that private brand sales in May were up 25% year over year, according to Nielsen data. Though the numbers were boosted by the pandemic, even before COVID-19 was a household name, store brand sales were rising. Take, for example, IRI and FMI — the Food Marketing Institute’s November 2019 report that said yearover-year store brand sales outpaced national brands in total store sales across lower-, middle- and higher-income levels, seeing roughly 5% growth at each income level ver-

Coffee G O LD Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Topco Associates — Full Circle Market Whole Bean Canned Coffee Topco insights showed that more than a third of coffee drinkers prefer grinding whole beans for better taste, and this is especially strong among millennials. In stylish Full Circle Market cans, great for reuse when the product is gone, a non-GMO whole bean coffee debuted. S I LV E R Kruger North America — Black Drop Nespresso Compatible Aluminum Capsules B RO N Z E Trilliant, Walgreens — Nice! Premium Cold Brew Vanilla Latte


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sus national brands’ 1% growth. Product manufacturers and retailer partners are clearly driving store brands to new heights through innovation and product quality. This was evident in all of the submissions that Store Brands received for Editors’ Picks 2020, and we applaud all the work entered. But we chose what we thought stood out, settling on the winners in nearly 30 categories. Many of these products were firsts for the industry or helped move store brands forward. We hope you find inspiration in the following winners:

Juice/Soft/Sports Drinks G O LD Perrigo, Albertsons — O Organics Electrolytes Not just a leader in private brands but the organic category, Albertsons’ O Organics electrolyte product stands out with its clean ingredient deck with no harsh products or dyes. S I LV E R Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods, Metro — Irresistibles Organics Very Berry frozen fruits B RO N Z E New Age Beverage, Topco Associates — Full Circle Market Organic Kombucha

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For excellence in Owned Brand product innovation and quality!

Editor’s Pick Awards program recognizes the best new product concepts available for private branding based on taste, innovation, and visual presentation.

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G O LD (3 -WAY TI E ) Prairie Farms, Aldi — Friendly Farms Lactose Free Chocolate Whole Milk; Jasper, Aldi — Friendly Farms Original Oatmilk; Smithfoods, Aldi — Friendly Farms Almond Coconutmilk Blend These three products outright fill a need for those with a dietary restriction but don’t sacrifice on taste.

G O LD Gallo, Albertsons — Exponential Cabernet Sauvignon; Brick & Vine Cabernet Sauvignon Two reds in the category at a price less than $10. Exponential was the 15th top growth brand for its 16 weeks, per IRI, while the Brick & Vine wines at Albertsons sell more than $2mm annually, with the cab totalling 35% of that cash.

S I LV E R Aurora Organic Dairy, Topco Associates — Full Circle Market Organic Milk with DHA and EPA Omega-3 B RO N Z E Albertsons — Open Nature Oat Milk

S I LV E R Specialty Cellars, Albertsons — Round Rock Vodka B RO N Z E Vintage Wine Estates, Albertsons — Signature Reserve Tennessee Whiskey

Water G O LD La Galvanina, Albertsons — Signature Select Craft Mixers The first time a mixer like this was made in the Albertsons private brand space and leverages an Italian heritage of beverage making, upping a mixer segment that’s normally dominated by value offerings. This one competes with toplevel mixers to go with an emerging craft cocktail category. S I LV E R Albertsons — Signature Select Soleil and Caffeine B RO N Z E Company Pure Distribution, Walgreens — Nice! Premium Icelandic Water


Store Brands

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Dressings/Oils G O LD Catania Oils — Marconi Fresh Harvest Bag-In-Box Extra Virgin Olive Oil With this product, flavors are innovatively preserved by the box packaging that blocks harmful light, and the oil is in an airtight bag to seal freshness. S I LV E R Fine Italian Food — Mantova Italian Dressing Spray B RO N Z E Salad Girl Fresh Organic Salad Dressing — Dude Ranch, Creamy Caesar, Creamy Sassy (slaw, chopped dressing)

G O LD Bascom Maple Farms — Coombs Family Farms Maple Stream Bascom’s product is an innovative can that streams out the syrup for a cleaner delivery system that’s easier for kids with no sticky cap and no need to refrigerate. S I LV E R Blackberry Patch, Albertsons — Signature Select Fruit Syrups (Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry) B RO N Z E The Gracious Gourmet — Empresa line of jams (Chile Mango Lime, Blueberry Lemon Thyme, Balsamic Fig, and Apple Sweet Cherry)

Popcorn GOLD Snack Innovations — Birthday Cake Drizzled Kettle Corn When something is birthday cake-flavored, it’s almost never a product that also is non-GMO, dairy-free, free from allergens and completely guilt free. The drizzled popcorn is sprinkled with fruit and vegetable-colored sprinkles and only 140 calories per serving. S I LV E R Snack Innovations — Sweet & Salty Turmeric Kettle Corn B RO N Z E Specialty Food Group, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Clancy’s White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn


Store Brands

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Candy GOLD Chocmod USA — Peanut/Pretzel Choco Snack Indulgently innovative, this sweet-and-salty pairing has a soft truffle center coated with real crispy pieces of salted peanut or pretzel to give it a soft and crunchy mix too. The pouches are perfect for grab and go and has received a lot of interest all over the world. S I LV E R Chocmod USA — White Chocolate Quinoa & Mango Snacking Chocolate B RO N Z E Les Aliments Midlon Foods, Metro — Selection of Premium Belgian Chocolate Cups

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Meat/Seafood G O LD Golden West, Albertsons — Signature Select Citrus & Herb Spatchcock Chicken This product ranks as the No. 1 own brands item in the refrigerated prepared meat category for the retailer, exceeding forecasted sales by 48%. So successful, it’s paved the way for 2020 line extensions. SILVER Kubisch Sausage — Long John Snacks Pickled Sausage and Salami Stix BRONZE LOC Industries/Alternative Kitchen, Sobeys, Healthy Planet, Metro — Organic Veggie Cold Cut Slices

Chips G O LD Snyders of Berlin, Wakefern — Kettle Cooked Potato Chips The first release in one of the most gorgeous, innovative private brand launches — Bowl & Basket. Sales were up in the category from the launch of these chips with innovative flavor profiles like Maui Sweet Onion. S I LV E R Snak King, Albertsons — Signature Select Cheese Crunchies snacks B RO N Z E Uniban, Albertsons — Signature Select Plantain Chips

Condiments/Seasonings G O LD Cape Foods, Checkers Shoprite South Africa — I Love Bacon Seasoning This line offers three seasonings that — despite the name — are 100% vegetarian, adding a smoky flavor to eggs, pizza and sandwiches. The seasonings are high quality for a low price point: $1.99. SILVER Celtrade Canada, Topco Associates — Culinary Tours Mayo Style Sandwich Spread BRONZE Olive Packing, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Specially Selected Stuffed Queen Olives


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Frozen Desserts G O LD J&J Snack Foods Corp., Walmart — Funnel Cake Fries An innovative treat for the aisle, bringing a favorite carnival treat to the freezer section. S I LV E R GS Gelato & Desserts, Topco Associates — Culinary Tours Sorbetto B RO N Z E Deliciosa Food Group, Topco Associates — Culinary Tours Fusion Bars

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Protein/Snack Bars G O LD Leclerc Foods USA, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Elevation by Millville Fruit & Nut Bars A top seller in the nutritional bar category, the nutritional bars feature flavors like Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, making them a tasty snack on the go or to go with a lunch and contain no high-fructose corn syrup.

GOLD Cibo Vita — Nature’s Garden Keto Snack Mix An innovative mix of nuts, seeds and cheese that is a healthy and functional snack food and sets itself apart by featuring Howaru Shape probiotics, a unique formula of 10 billion CFUs of bifidobacterium lactis B420, a naturally occurring strain originally isolated from dairy products.

S I LV E R Your Bar Factory, Metro — Irresistibles Naturalia Kids Cereal Bars

S I LV E R Sun Tree Snack Foods, Dollar General — Good & Smart Salt & White Pepper Shelled Pistachios

B RO N Z E Doctors Scientific Organica, Smart for Life — Keto Triple Chocolate Protein Bar

B RO N Z E Tropical Nut & Fruit, Walgreens — Nice! Premium Cashew & Macadamia Blend

Bread/Granola G O LD Bagel Boy Inc., Aldi — Aldi-exclusive L’oven Fresh Bagel Skinny’s With 0 grams of saturated fat and only 110 calories per serving, the product brings a low-calorie option to the bagel category. S I LV E R TWI Foods, Metro — Irresistibles Roti Flat Breads B RO N Z E Bakery on Main/Garden of Light, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Simply Nature Super Food Granola


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G O LD Great Lakes Cheese, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Emporium Selection Cracker Cuts Packed with an undeniable convenience, the product offers pre-cut cheese slices that can be easily added to a cheese tray for entertaining or a quick protein snack on the go. The delicious cheeses come in Extra Sharp White Cheddar, Extra Sharp Yellow Cheddar and Gouda. S I LV E R Schreiber Foods, Topco Associates — Food Club Foldz Greek Yogurt B RO N Z E Great Lakes Cheese, Topco Associates — Food Club String Cheese Bites



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Sweets GOLD Apple Valley Foods, Metro — Irresistibles Choco Caramel Pecan Cream Pie A pure indulgence, the decadent pie comes with a chocolate cookie crust, creamy chocolate, caramel, pecans and whipped cream. No artificial coloring or aroma, the pie serves eight slices and has registered rapid growth since its launch. S I LV E R Poppies International Inc., Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Benton’s Macaroons B RO N Z E Dover Foods Inc., Albertsons — Open Nature Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Mix



G O LD Valor Brands, Topco Associates — Tippy Toes True Diapers More than a third of parents are buying organic for their baby and half want clean products, the Tippy Toes diapers are gentle, chlorine-free, made with renewable materials and still pack 12 hours of leakage protection.

G O LD Hart Consumer Products/Techtronic Industries, Walmart — Hart 20V 4-Tool Combo Kit A top-seller in the category following its November launch, even though it’s a bit higher priced than others in Walmart’s debut Hart line of own brand tools, the kit helps complete any DIY home project.

S I LV E R ( TI E ) Fote, Albertsons — Open Nature Baby Toiletries; Albertsons — Open Nature Baby Lotion

S I LV E R Hart Consumer Products/Techtronic Industries, Walmart — Hart 68 PC. Impact Driver Bit Set

B RO N Z E Vijon, Walgreens — Well Beginnings Hypoallergenic Vanilla Apricot Baby Wash and Shampoo

B RO N Z E Hart Consumer Products/Techtronic Industries, Walmart — Hart 40V Brushless 20” Push Mower Kit


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Paper G O LD First Quality, Walgreens — Complete Home Ultra Soft Toilet Paper Toiler paper has been the star of the pandemic, and Walgreens’ store brand offers a superior-quality item that is comparable to national brands but at half the price. S I LV E R BB17 and Huhtamaki, Albertsons — Open Nature Compostable Table Top items B RO N Z E Simply Clean, Walgreens — Complete Home Compostable Plate

Health and Beauty Care


GOLD Fruit of the Earth, Walgreens — Psoriasis All Purpose Wash; Psoriasis Daily Repair Moisturizer These two products were the first store brand psoriasis treatments on the market, formulated for dry and reactive skin types and free from parabens, sulfates and fragrances.

G O LD Sunshine Mills, Topco Associates — Pure Harmony Oven Baked Pet parents called for human-grade pet food, mimicking human food trends, and this store brand launched with unique flavors like Sweet Potato & Cranberry Recipe Dog Food and Oven Roasted Turkey.

S I LV E R US Cotton, Topco Associates — TopCare Makeup Blender Sponges

S I LV E R Globalinx, Walgreens — Petshoppe Premium Chicken Fillet; Petshoppe Premium Chicken Jerky

B RO N Z E Personnelle, Metro — Personnelle Discover Beauty Secrets - Advent Calendar

B RO N Z E Rush Direct, Aldi — Aldi-exclusive Pure Being Super Jerky Dog Treats

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GOLD Perrigo, Topco Associates — TopCare Electrolyte Powder This own brand captures a 37% share of sales in a segment that is dominated by a national brand leader, and sales were up nearly 30% for the last 52 weeks.

G O LD Perrigo, Topco Associates — TopCare Esomeprazole Magnesium Mini Capsules 60 million Americans suffer from acid indigestion or heartburn weekly and these pills offer a full day of protection while being easy to swallow compared to what’s traditionally offered.

S I LV E R Boston Nutraceutical Science, Topco Associates — TopCare Children’s Jelly Beans Multi-Vitamins B RO N Z E Merical, Walgreens — Heartburn Probiotic

S I LV E R : Life Wear Tech, Walgreens — Instant & Reusable Gel Pack B RO N Z E PL Developments, Topco Associates — TopCare Ibuprofen Liquigel Minis

Laundry G O LD Greenology, Albertsons — O Organics Fabric Softeners Newly scented Citrus and Lavendar fabric softeners that are all natural and a stunning alternative in the laundry space. S I LV E R VSP, Albertsons — Open Nature Scent Boosters B RO N Z E TLS Americas Inc., Topco Associates — Simply Done Oxy Pac Detergent Booster


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Housewares GOLD (TIE) Herevin by Solmazer, Walmart/Carrefour/Daiso — Salad Box With Sauce Pot; Salt & Pepper Grinder With Elegant Design There’s an elegance to these functional meal items, particularly the salad box with sauce pot container that helps encourage healthier eating in a fun container and then the grinder stands out as a luxury item for a store brand. S I LV E R Herevin by Solmazer, Walmart/Carrefour/Daiso — Water Bottle for Children BRONZE ADJ, Walgreens — Complete Home Stainless Steel Straws

Oral Care GOLD (2-WAY TIE) Plus Ultra, Albertsons — Open Nature Bamboo Toothbrush; Ranir, Walgreens — Bamboo Toothbrushes Plastic pollution is a problem and these toothbrushes provide an eco-friendly alternative that helps keep plastic toothbrushes piling up on the landfill. S I LV E R : Lornamead, Albertsons — Open Nature Charcoal Toothpaste B RO N Z E : Rosemarie, Walgreens — Eco-friendly Flossers

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f the 45 names listed here are any indication, the private brands industry has a bright future. In June, Store Brands put out a call for nominees to be considered for its first Rising Stars feature — think of it as a traditional 40 under 40 listing. Only we couldn’t help but go over 40 and there are a few people teetering over 40 years old, but it’s never been about age anyway. It’s about shining a light on future leaders of the industry looking to push the private brands industry further ahead. The honorees below work at world-class retailers, agencies and private label manufacturers. Here is the first class of Rising Stars in Private Label:

Leo Nucera, sales and marketing director, Agritalia Agritalia has been a leader in Italian food products in private label for more than 25 years and Nucera is fresh in his role as its sales director, taking the post over a year ago. His biggest challenge: He jumped right into seeing through a complex project that saw automatic replenishment in its U.S. supply chain system. Sticking with logistics, Nucera also has become an educational leader in the industry. Nucera and his team are working with several universities around the world to benchmark a better and cleaner solution for logistics management. “This is the best part of my job, to be on a permanent trip around the world travelling and searching for the correct answers regarding tradition and authenticity but also trying to understand what the consumer of tomorrow is interested in,” Nucera said. 32

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Robert Bishop, senior sales development manager for own brands, Albertsons Bishop is a key sales liaison between suppliers, the self-manufacturing team and innovation teams that create promotional plans to bring the retailer’s own brands to life. Notably, Bishop was a key figure in the development of Albertsons’ promotional management process and integrating the own brands sales planning process into a new enterprise-wide promotional planning tool. This year, he also held the reins of the very complex store brand holiday program. He said he sees Albertsons private brand business growing faster than ever due to brand consolidation opportunities in categories where national brand loyalty is low or where switching is high.

Katherine Chin, senior director of own brands sourcing, Albertsons A true leader in the retailer’s supply chain, Chin oversees the sourcing and supply chain operations for all of own brands, more than 10,000 SKUs across 800 categories, representing a quarter of the company’s sales. This is a huge responsibility and one that was at risk when the coronavirus pandemic took shape. Chin, however, spearheaded the creation of the Own Brands Operations Command Center, establishing protocols for staff and suppliers, continuing a flow of communication and managing order amid chaos.

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Elizabeth Guthrie, director of own brands innovation, Albertsons Staring down the general merchandise, pet care and home care innovation brands for Albertsons, Guthrie is leading a team of 18 people that are responsible for a portfolio worth $900 million that produces more than 1,500 SKUs across 150 categories — and has generated a 45% bump in yearover-year sales. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, home goods have been vital, and Guthrie helped identify and set up more than 200 new suppliers for own brands in record time and helped set up more than 100 control brands all in an effort to ensure products got out to consumers and generated a significant increase in sales. “Our lifestyle brands such as Open Nature and O Organics will play a pivotal role in our growth as we identify emerging trends and consumer needs states,” she said.

Christina Hudson, sales development manager, Albertsons In her role, Hudson helped initiate a complete overhaul of the communication process around innovation for the Albertsons’ own brands team. She worked to ensure that the communication being shared out provided the right information for all divisions, which streamlined the on-shelf distribution process. Additionally, she developed an internal dashboard that tracks the status of all innovation from initial concept to distribution at shelf. She said she loves being on the front line of the innovation around own brands.

Jenna Huynh, product development technologist, Albertsons Though still early in her career, Huynh has already demonstrated tremendous skill as a food technologist for the retailer. In one project, under very aggressive timelines, Huynh approved 45 SKUs of rice and rice-blend products that included onboarding a new supplier, which involved three manufacturing sites. The approval process included validating cooking instructions, reviewing specifications, confirming quality attributes and much more. Within the year, the new supplier went out of business and Huynh worked aggressively to ensure the products were available. She said she’s proud of the company’s initiatives toward responsible sourcing in seafood, fair trade coffee and more. “I’m looking forward to supporting future pledges related to sustainability as well.”

Jessica Sakino, sourcing manager, Albertsons A young rising star under 30 years old, Sakino already is making a mark as an educator in the field. For one, Sakino leads the company’s 2020 Summer Internship program for the own brands sourcing department. The program could’ve been canceled during the virus but she has managed to build out a hybrid model that included work-from-home training and some socially distanced training in the office. Sakino is a mentor to new hires in the company, too, connecting with new hires, training them, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. During her time, the company’s rate of converting interns into new hires is up more than 50% over the last three years.

Joren Salazar, product development, Albertsons Salazar uses his food science background to develop product prototypes within dairy manufacturing for Albertsons’ own brands, and he’s been able to scale-up new dairy and nondairy products to energize a static category. At the retailer, Salazar has met — and at times surpassed — milestones within the new product development process, including sourcing and qualifying new ingredients, developing approved prototypes, overseeing production trials, creating specifications, and approving production of several new items. And he’s seeing the products on shelves. “When I worked at a traditional food CPG company I never saw the products I worked on commercialize,” he said. “Within a year at own brands, I spent long hours scaling up over 30 of my products at our plants, which all ended up on our store shelves.”

Cristina Roure, managing director, Altex USA One of the Rising Stars to be nominated by multiple people, Roure has helped develop private label programs at H-E-B, Trader Joe’s, Meijer, Ahold Delhaize, Sprouts Farmers Market, Costco and more. Altex USA produces a range of canned fruit, jams, tuna and frozen goods, among other categories. Roure described Altex as one of the most reliable allies in the food and private brand industry, and she’s looking forward to venturing further into e-commerce, digital resources, AI, food retailing and how food is changing worldwide. “More than ever, how food is grown, how food is consumed, who is consuming it and how much food waste is generated, are questions that will need to be answered along the supply chain cycles,” she said. “We need to work closer to develop healthy, sustainable, efficient and functional products so consumers can benefit from all these changes. My goal is to be part of this change.”

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Erin Shulman, Amazon private brands senior product manager, Amazon Over the last few years, Shulman has been driving store brands in e-commerce, recently with Thrive Market, where she sourced and managed private brands for the platform and now with Amazon. Looking ahead, she said Amazon is always looking for ways to develop new private brands products to innovate on behalf of its customers. “I think you’ll see us continue to grow our private brands across consumable categories,” she said. “We’ll continue to listen to customer feedback to hear what they like, what they don’t like, and where we can improve the customer experience even further. In the store brands industry, I’m most excited about driving category growth through new product innovation. My passion is learning which specific attributes best serve our customers and developing high quality products that will gain their trust and loyalty.”

Michael Collins, regional retail sales manager, Atalanta Collins has been working in private brands for more than 10 years with Wakefern Food’s in-house brokerage and now as a sales manager at Atalanta helping launch store brand items at Publix, Winn Dixie, The Fresh Market and Ingles Markets. He recently launched imported private label deli products at retailers amid the rise in tariffs, including a get of the “king of cheese,” a store brand version of Parmigiano Reggiano to more 2,000 stores in the southeast. “I take great pride in partnering with retailers to bring international delicacies to supermarket shelves under trusted store brands,” Collins said. “As private label brands continue to gain market share, my organization is continuously seeking opportunities to partner with retailers to supply unique products from over 60 countries and is striving to be a part of every food experience.”

Salvatore Russo Tiesi, general manager and director, Bono USA Growing up, Russo Tiesi helped out his Sicilian-born father’s family Italian food importing business, and right out of college had a drive to make the Bono Extra Virgin Olive Oil product into a top-selling, premium EVOO in the United States. He got the brand into Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market and more, and banked it into seven regional retailers and two national retailers for private label. The product is in 5,000 stores in all 50 states and the private label business went from nothing to more than $10 million a year annually, seeing sales grow by 25% year over year. Russo Tiesi said he fully expects Bono’s private brand 34

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sales to steadily increase, too. “Consumers are looking for all-natural, clean products,” he said. “Due to their highquality, traceability and great value, Italian food products’ sales continue to surge in supermarkets across the United States. As someone who aims to provide guidance and understands the supply chain from start to finish, I’m proud to be an integral resource for retailers nationwide.”

Katie Burkhardt, senior manager of brand and marketing strategy, Daymon Burkhardt said she is excited by store brands that invest in a distinct identity and benefits-driven messaging. This is not a surprise, knowing that her role is to look closely at how store brands measure up against national brands and to provide expertise to retailers on how to structure and market their private brands and portfolios. Recently, she did just that for an international retailer with more than 15 brands, across multiple banners and a shifting business strategy. Burkhardt delivered an assessment of the entire private brand program, the development of a new portfolio architecture — including recommendations for brand additions and consolidations, and the creation of thorough brand manuals for each of the brands.

Joelle Dove, senior business manager and account lead, Daymon For the past four years, Dove has been accelerating private brand growth at Big Lots, a retailer that has made very clear strides in its private brand portfolio over those four years. In fact, over the last two, the retailer has seen double-digit growth in its store brands business. For Big Lots, Dove implemented and leads a mutually agreed upon strategic roadmap to grow the private brand business, introducing strategic pillars and objectives that are reviewed quarterly. When asked what excites her about the industry, Dove encapsulated it nicely: “I am excited by private brands’ ability to create differentiation for retailers. To me, more than anything else a retailer could sell on their shelves, private brand is a promise from the retailer to the customer saying, ‘I want good for you and your family through our brand.’”

Lacy Dowers, senior manager of business analysis, Daymon Climbing the ladder at Daymon for 14 years, from customer service to her current role in business insight, Dowers has worked with every Daymon customer field (28 in all). Her passion lies in analytics. She understands that driving efficiencies the correct way will not only save time but create more accurate output. “We know private brand is no

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Joelle Dove

Lacy Dowers

Sarah Fair

Lindsey Lombard

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longer a black-and-white label located on the bottom of store shelves,” she said. “Its image has changed and innovation is taking place. Now consumers are looking at store brands and not seeing generic, but instead viewing it as another brand on shelf. Same quality, lower price.”

Sarah Fair, senior director of account management, Daymon Part of the Daymon Creative Services team, Fair has helped modernize the agency’s capabilities and services, helping its retail clients get products to market faster and helping retailers and manufacturers control costs. In fact, her understanding of design has seen a 37% increase in speed to market, and on the packaging side, her efforts helped Daymon’s partners save more than 25% in packaging costs, compared year over year. Fair said Daymon will continue to use its experience to help clients forge new paths for private brands, “getting the right products with the right branding in consumer hands faster.”

Lindsey Lombard, director of marketing, Daymon Celebrating 15 years with Daymon, Lombard has partnered with best-inclass retailers such as Harris Teeter, Wegmans and CVS Pharmacy to develop holistic marketing programs. In one case she managed a portfolio of more than 3,000 SKUs that underwent a massive redesign, navigating the shift from old to new that saw a sales lift as high as 15% in some product cases. She also notably helped develop the first Ambassador Program for Harris Teeter, inviting associates to sample items and empower them to be advocates for store brands in-store and engage with shoppers. Lombard calls herself “a bit of an evangelist” for the store brands industry and she has her sights on the future, where AI and predictive analytics are impacting recipe building and shopping cart management. She wants to make sure as retail in general moves to a more digital platform that store brands aren’t left in the dust.


We are very proud of you and your ongoing efforts for our organization! The SunTree Snack Foods Team


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Danielle McCormick, account manager, Daymon McCormick assumed responsibility for Daymon’s packaging management business just over a year ago and has already generated impressive results, seeing the division exceed revenue targets by 23%. McCormick understands shifts in purchasing trends, new printing technologies and strategies and helped launch new services for clients like sample boxes, store kits for in-store merchandising support, custom-cut pressure sensitive labels, in-store displays, sustainable solutions, and international sourcing. McCormick offered contemporary solutions for common packaging problems, delivering the largest revenue volume for the department in four years and doubled new business revenue versus 2018.

Andrew Moberly, director of category strategy for fresh, Daymon Moberly has dedicated his career to private brands, first as a business manager at

Ahold Delhaize and then Wegmans. At Daymon, he oversees the execution of the fresh category and his expertise is well known, often getting him meetings with senior-level executives in the industry. Moberly’s expertise runs deep, too, spanning supply chain complexities and best practices for in-store execution To share his knowledge, he developed the Daymon Fresh Expert program to train associates, training more than 100 associates in the last three years on fresh meat to seafood harvesting to produce picking seasons.

Kerry Oelze, senior analyst for insights, Daymon An analytics master, internally at Daymon, Oelze is a point of contact for everyone in the organization when it comes to the agency’s proprietary private brand dashboard portal. She manages one-on-one training sessions and educates associates on the portal, which is designed as a place for all Daymon associates to go for quick business answers on brands and more. The portal has more than 300


JAKE TAVELLO “R We’re so proud of you! - The Leonard Family

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dashboards on retailers, with insights and benchmarks. Her work fuels Daymon field teams daily. Oelze said she’s most excited that the store brand industry offers “many data-generating avenues, and it’s prime for analysis and visualization.” She added: “Translating data into visualizations that provide quick insights helps all Daymon associates and supports innovation and growth for all Daymon customers.”

Cassie Peltzer, sourcing manager for fresh, Daymon An expert in sourcing for the fresh category, Peltzer provides high-quality sourcing solutions for Daymon’s retail partners. She served a pivotal role in building Daymon’s proprietary Supplier Database, reviewing the mechanics of the database, and helping to lay out the right vision for the platform. “I see Daymon’s private brand business offering more digital and e-commerce oriented services in the future,” she said. “For private brands, there needs to be engagement with consumers in other ways so that when they do step into a store or order online, they are seeking out unique, differentiated private brand products that delight and excite the consumer.”

Jean Ryan, senior director, brand strategy and design, Daymon Ryan’s strengths in both brand strategy and design helped lead to a newly created role for her and she used those skills to help develop a strategic planning approach that has helped dozens of retailers engineer a plan and successfully drive their private brand growth. The process drove stronger brand connections with consumers, and a 15% average sales growth. Ryan said that as part of its 50th anniversary, Daymon has been doing a lot of reflecting on how much private brands have changed and where the industry will go. “One of the big things we’ve learned in shaping this space is that it can’t be a one-sizefits-all approach to private brands — every retailer is different, and their programs should reflect this.”

Brittney Pickering, national private brands sales manager, Gold Medal Bakery A high-quality bread manufacturer for more than 100 years, Gold Medal takes pride in its private label offerings. Pickering said the private brands are more popular than ever and she expects that trend to continue. At Gold Medal, she created a role within her team to be the liaison of the company’s private brand program and its mutual larger goals. “Private brands are no longer just a price play,” she said. “They are evolving. The opportunity to truly engage and use private brands to help customers increase loyalty is exciting.” 38

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Jackie Rogoz, private brand manager, Key Food Stores Co-Op Over the last two years, Key Food has grown the private brand business by more than 800 items, creating a banner-agnostic private label brand for the full Key Food family of supermarkets. Going forward, that number will expand, especially in the organics assortment. Rogoz has been right there during this growth, modernizing the 80-year-old store brand into its new Urban Meadow form. Her passion for the industry is being part of the constant progression and dynamic challenges, she said. “The most exciting part of our industry is being able to participate in every step of creating a new item — from finding the right vendor to partner with, to creating the packaging, and finally seeing the product in our stores,” Rogoz said. “We began a big marketing push to promote and gain consumer awareness about Urban Meadow being available in our family of supermarkets. The best is yet to come for our store brand.”

Jennifer Vierra, brand marketing manager, Musco Family Olive In 2019, Vierra stepped into a vacancy at the brand marketing manager position, representing the only one for the familyrun company helping to drive its private label olives business and its branded table olives, which makes up more than half the market. Her colleagues at the Tracy, Calif.based company describe her as vibrant, full of passion, the hardest worker in the room.

Apolline Rillet, retail division manager, Overseas Food Trading Rillet has built strong relationships with key private label buyers during her time at Overseas, including Kroger, Whole Foods, H-E-B, Sprouts and more. She’s working several categories, too, candy, snacks, holiday and bulk buys. Rillet has become an optimistic leader at the company and across the industry — continually adding to her network of manufacturers globally and how to drive them efficiently.

Colleen Purcell-Kangas, vice president, Purcell International Another rising star to be nominated by more than one nominator, Purcell, though young, has been involved in the industry for two decades and has deep understanding from logistics to manufacturing. She’s an expert at sourcing — having helped one company develop a line of store brand soups with innovative, healthy ingredients like organic hearts of palm while sourcing directly from the farm and hitting price points

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without compromise. For another project, she helped a retailer struggling to source pineapple find a quick solution and save money in the process. In categories like tuna, she’s been ahead of offering sustainable solutions.

Gabriel Markowitz, business development account manager, Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services Markowitz has created several private brand wines for retailers that are on shelves now in top-flight stores. The wines are crafted from Northern California grapes and his innate understanding of trends in the industry has helped create some great wines for retailers and strengthen partnerships to grow further. In one varietal in particular, he’s been able to reach customers of all size to educate & expand opportunities for Méthode Champenoise Sparkling Wine, and he’s established himself as a leader in the Domestic Sparkling market. He has been the bridge for clients seeking to provide these high-quality bubbles to their consumers.

Manveer Sandhu, director of winemaking, Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services Having risen in the ranks from lab manager to the head of winemaking, Sandhu has put a lot of time in to learn every level of the craft of winemaking, across every department. In his role now, he oversees the team in all aspects of production and is preparing to fill the shoes of the director of the department who is retiring. Sandhu has been stepping up to the challenge admirably.

Brian Albert, senior category manager for private label, Sprouts Farmers Market In his role, Albert is constantly looking to innovate and improve the retailer’s own brands. He’s involved in sourcing, product development, package design, category management and distribution of those products. Recently he saw through the rollout of Sprouts’ second-through-fourth quarter seasonal product program that

Congratulations Colleen Purcell-Kangas! Vice President, Purcell International

Colleen Purcell-Kangas is responsible for all global logistics functions including importation and clearances of shipments, oversees key strategic sourcing partnerships domestically and overseas, develops new strategies and growth platforms for the sales team and spearheads sales for key ‘private label’ grocery and food service accounts.

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included 30 items worth an incremental $3 million. “I love Sprouts and I’m delighted with the innovation we introduce in our stores,” he said. “Whether the items are plant based, organic, gluten free, or any other differentiating trait, our customers and team members often respond with rave reviews.”

Tom Lombardo, category manager for private label, Sprouts Farmers Market Lombardo brings to the retailer a vast knowledge of key suppliers in the industry and he’s quick to research new private brand suppliers that are capable of producing to the level of the health foods store’s standards. Recently, Lombardo helped develop a new packaged line of private label chocolates, candies and nuts. Part of this process was creating and implementing new packaging, new product standards and an in-depth pricing assessment. “With national brands, we are limited to the assortment they created,” he said. “With private label, we can tweak the taste, texture, appearance, aroma, and many other factors to create products that specifically target Sprouts customers, and, ideally become their favorites.”

Jake Tavello, vice president of stores, Stew Leonard’s As the nephew of Stew Leonard Jr., Tavello has been around the beloved grocer since the age of 15 — and putting in the work to learn. He’s worked in every department across all Stew Leonard stores. His hands have tossed pizza dough, roasted coffee and cut open a 200-lb. swordfish. While in college, he also spent two summers learning all about store operations. As a full-time team member for four short years, Tavello has been rising through the ranks, including time as a store director at various locations before reaching the role of vice president of stores in June. Tavello has helped drive store openings for a grocer that is more than 60% store brands, and he said that he sees private brands only growing as they seek out the trendiest. “I’m most excited about continuing to offer ‘clean’ products like our Simply Mariana sauce, which is imported from Italy and made with simple ingredients, as well as our Naked line of antibiotic and hormone-free meat,” he said.

Emily Krakowski, director of sales and marketing, SunTree Snack Foods At the nuts and snacks company, Krakowski consistently works to come up with new platforms and ideas for snacking concepts. Recently, for a retailer partner, she helped create a special lineup of flavored almonds. That project required working through labeling parameters, requests and a quick commercialization timeline that she was able to hit on all marks. Josh Sowell, senior vice president and COO of the company, said Krawkowksi is diligent, hard working, creative and insatiable 40

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for results. “She takes our own company’s interest into mind, but more importantly looks to raise the water level across the retailers with all parties in mind,” he said.

Brittany LaSota, quality assurance manager for regulatory and nutrition, Topco Associates Leading the regulatory team on all aspects of product labeling for more than 20,000 products procured by Topco, LaSota is a resource for Topco members and suppliers on regulatory, nutrition and quality questions. She keenly interprets regulatory changes and her insights help Topco daily in their businesses. LaSota loves seeing products get developed and ensures the product and packaging is compliant. “If you asked one of my family members, they’d probably tell you I get way too excited when I go to a store and see products that I helped develop on-shelf,” she said, “but I’m proud of the work I do and I am always happy to show it off.”

Parth Patel, program manager for pharmacy, Topco Associates Parth has spent his career in retail operations and the supply chain, including time spent as a small business owner where he said he witnessed the control that national brands had over retail operations. In his role now, he’s bringing a new way of thinking to develop insights and analytics reporting to how Topco serves insights to its members. In one example, he formulated data into scorecards for members and delivered it right to their inboxes, providing them a glimpse at how various members were executing programs, demonstrating insights they’d never seen before. Topco members appreciated the insight into how they benchmarked against their peers and it became a key part of Topco’s health and wellness programs. “I find it very rewarding to know that my efforts empower regional retailers who service the needs of their communities by providing affordable products,” he said.

Linda Phan, category manager for dairy and frozen, Topco Associates Phan has been a leader of several own brand projects at Topco, but one that stands out is her work spearheading a line of pizzas under the Crav’n Flavor launch in less than 18 months and seeing it rise to become the most successful frozen pizza program for the company. It’s a brand that thrives on innovation, in pizza flavors or unique frozen appetizers, and Phan knows it. She said it takes her passion for food and the smarts of a category management background to bring innovative products to market. “For own brands to prosper in the ever-changing competitive landscape,” she said, “versatility in approach, product offerings, and execution will be more crucial than ever.”

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Josh Rizzo, senior manager of category insights, Topco Associates Hyper-focused on the business outcome at hand, Rizzo’s command of data enables him to boil down complex information from multiple sources into actionable recommendations for own brand products and retail at large. Recently he played a major role in the expansion of the Crav’n Flavor brand into new grocery categories, using insights for initial scoping of the project to creating a new way to forecast volume potential for each member using the assortment. Rizzo said he loves using data and insights to tell a story that results in improving the overall shopping experience for consumers.

Lisa Smith, business improvement manager, Topco Associates Smith is a creative thinker with a knack for influencing and inspiring others at Topco. She recently moved into a new role that saw her manage the Topco Product Transparency Initiative, overseeing 10 distinct teams, each tasked with developing a new approach to providing product transparency to Topco associates, members and consumers. She said the program

ultimately enabled shoppers to make an informed shopping decision both online by filtering through claims and in-store by reading shelf tags with wellness claims. “Consumers who have specific dietary requirements, or those simply looking to nurture their body with a new lifestyle choice, can shop with ease and efficiency,” she said. “I believe these types of shopping enhancements are more essential than ever before, establishing consumer loyalty and maintaining trust with retailers, while also providing a bit of joy in discovering new products that may add flavor to the daily routine.”

Amber Soucek, senior program analyst, Topco Associates Prior to Topco, Soucek spent 15 years in the healthcare industry, treating patients with ailments and seeing their struggles firsthand. At Topco, she is part of a team developing products and strategies that help prevent illness, such as executing the Topco flu-shot program. But she adds that Topco has another powerful tool: food. “The work I do helps to make the most commonly sought-after items like organic, plant based, and gluten free, easily accessible and affordable to the majority of consumers,” she said, adding that high prices and

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being uneducated about the foods are what keep people from eating healthier items. “Learning which items are better for you and how to cook with new, different ingredients can be intimidating, so I am currently working on an exciting project to provide shoppers greater access to dietitians who can help them learn how to eat specifically for their own health conditions, and how to cook new and healthier foods,” she said.

Farrah Tatone, program manager for pharmacy, Topco Associates With four promotions under her belt in seven years, Tatone is the definition of a riser. In her recent role, she helped lead the Topco Direct Generics Initiative to grow program participants by 275% and saw year-over-year sales increase by nearly 10% during tough coronavirus pandemic conditions. Tatone is driven to continue to help, too. “Given the current state of the economy and the unemployment rate at an alltime high, more consumers will continue moving towards private brand labels, and this presents Topco and its members with an opportunity to thrive,” she said. “Most importantly, because of the work we do, families and communities across the country will have the ability to make ends meet with quality products at affordable prices.”

Seth Nieman, product manager for own brands, Wakefern Food Nieman leads the center store portfolio of own brands for Wakefern, supporting all of the $17 billion company’s banners and doing it with exceptional attention to detail. He played an integral role in launching ShopRite’s Bowl & Basket and Paperbird lines, a program that took private brands to new heights at the company. His unyielding commitment to the own brands division and his leading efforts helped further steer the overall own brands portfolio to reach its goal of 25% own brand penetration in-store.

Glenn Figenholtz, group vice president/general merchandise manager for grocery and household, Walgreens Well-respected within Walgreens, Figenholtz has experience in several departments at the retailer, notably helping accelerate store brand growth and proprietary packaging for the Delish nut line, a private brand cookie assortment and its own brand water. He also led the merchandising and marketing work stream for the Walgreens and Rite Aid integration. In his current role in the grocery and household department, he is driving Walgreens to be a convenience retailer of choice for communities across America, and he loves the white space that own brands present. “Knowing who our customers are and what they want are key to meeting these needs,” he said. “Our category and 42

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product development team does an unbelievable job in turning those insights into customer solutions that drive longterm loyalty for Walgreens.”

Stefanie Kruse, vice president of digital commerce and omnichannel, Walgreens Bringing the digital and the physical together, Kruse powers Walgreens’ own brands and national brands into the omnichannel universe. For example, she has driven such initiatives as a national same-day delivery partnership with Postmates and similar programs through Walgreens drive-thru. Kruse said consumers today are more willing than ever to test and trust store brands. “From a digital standpoint — particularly as online shopping is now being widely embraced — this is exciting because it allows us to be more relevant and value oriented in an increasingly competitive marketplace. We can also use our owned brands to test, learn, and experiment, which allows us to add value for consumers in new ways.”

Luke Rauch, vice president of commercial strategy, Walgreens Rauch oversees Walgreens owned brand commercialization efforts, strategic supplier partnerships, and category and assortment strategy and execution. He’s responsible for the overall strategy for the merchandising organization across the company’s more than 9,200 stores. “I am passionate about offering a stronger and unique value to customers through our store brands portfolio,” Rauch said. “Not just in the traditional sense of price, where private label is just seen as a ‘cheaper’ alternative, but how do we genuinely develop and market new products to improve consumers’ lives, while at the same time not breaking their bank account. During these challenging times more than ever — COVID, joblessness, etc. — private label value will play an even more pronounced role in people’s lives.”

Gregory Heward, CEO, WSD Labs USA The only CEO on the rising stars list, he may have already risen, but the company leader younger than 40 years old is seeing private brands excel in teeth whitening solutions and hand sanitizer products for the company. For teeth-whitening products, the category is expected to pass $7.4 billion over the next four years and WSD’s retail clients are growing exponentially. “With economic uncertainty on the forefront of people’s minds, offering teeth whitening solutions that give the end user the feeling of youth, health and confidence is incredibly rewarding,” Heward said. “More than ever, people want to take control of their lives through brand ownership. We are proud to be able to offer a low investment, high quality product with an outstanding ROI.”

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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR RISING STARS Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services is pleased to announce that Store Brands magazine has recognized two of our talented employees as “Rising Stars” under 40 in the Private Label sector. Congrats to these enterprising talents!

Meet Our Honorees



Account Executive

Director of Winemaking

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GET IN TOUCH TO LEARN MORE Contact: Gabriel Markowitz | (707) 433-8400 x212 | Visit us online at:

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hat started as a small rollout at Walmart has quickly come to showcase the retailer’s store brand investment in the hardware category. Late last year, Walmart quietly introduced a private brand for the hardware category called Hart, debuting a small assortment of power tools, a lawn mower and small items like a tape measure. The brand image with blue and white colors, reminiscent of its parent, debuted with educational images online and welcomed itself to new consumers as a possible gift idea for the holiday season. By February, however, a full line of 350 items hit stores, blanketing the chain’s hardware departments in that same bold blue color, supported by a high-powered omnichannel marketing campaign that included massive floor displays, social media tie-ins with celebrities, retail-tainment events and more. Walmart was making a statement: the chain was getting serious about hardware and its private label line. In some ways, the new private brand was a surprise. The


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everyday low-price mass merchant, a leader in American retailing, had not been known as a chain to buy power tools. Walmart does sell tools and equipment from major brands, and it does have a store brand in place called Hyper Tough. But Hart is being positioned as the ultimate hardware line for the do-it-yourself home improvement consumer. “With Hart, we are empowering all levels of DIYers to tackle any project and inspiring them to take on new ones, no matter their skill set or budget,” said Andrea Schaffer, senior buying manager for hardware and paint at Walmart U.S. “Our investment in this exclusive tool line furthers our commitment to helping busy families save time and live better — all for a great value at our everyday low prices.” Schaffer agreed that Walmart has not been considered a destination for high-performance tools, hardware, outdoor and automotive products, but going forward the plan is to communicate to the customer that Walmart is “seriously committed to providing a high-quality, broad range of competitively priced products.”

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Tool Time At the center of the Hart product line are battery-powered tools that all use an interchangeable battery system designed with portability and versatility in mind. For drills, cutting tools, portable lights, rotary tools, buffers and so much more, there’s a 20-volt battery system. For such bigger items as lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, blowers and more, there’s a heftier 40-volt, interchangeable battery system. The larger tool line aims to replace gas-powered equipment needed for larger outdoor spaces, Shaffer said. Additionally, the Hart program features a vast and growing range of hand tools, accessories, and storage solutions that are designed to be durable and high quality. To develop the breadth of Hart product, Walmart worked with its supplier Techtronic Industries, or TTI, a global company founded in 1985 and a leader in cordless lithium-ion tool technology. The company manufactures power tools, accessories, hand tools, outdoor powered equipment for national brands that include Milwaukee, Ryobi, Hoover and more. Kyle Edwards, TTI’s group marketing manager, said the Hart brand was developed specifically for the broad range of customers that Walmart attracts — from tool novices and newly minted homeowners to serious DIYers. With more than 350 products now, Hart is looking to cover all aspects of DIY needs for consumers. It’s Walmart’s high-performance line for those looking for low effort. Hyper Tough, which was developed several years ago, still exists in several tool and hardware categories and “is positioned as a good/better value,” Schaffer said. Besides the DIY story Hart tells, Schaffer said that she is proud of the line developed as a collaborative effort between Walmart and TTI. “The ideation, development and launch of the Hart brand is a case study in collaboration, speed to market product development and operational excellence, all underpinned by a remarkable partnership between Walmart and TTI,” she said. “The program was developed and implemented in recordbreaking time.” She added that TTI has been a leader in the DIY space for many years. “Combined with Walmart’s customer insights and additional intensive market research, we identified the right mix of products and merchandising execution to reach the Walmart customer.”

a variety of ways. One play was a spring social media tie-in with home improvement celebrities Leanne and Steve Ford, the duo at the helm of HGTV’s “Restored the Fords.” The Fords — who use their interior design and contracting experience to inspire viewers to handle projects at home — hosted educational videos on the Hart dedicated website and posted videos on their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels. Walmart did the same. Around the same time, Walmart had retail-tainment events held to demonstrate tools, public relations work, digital advertising campaigns continually ran, social media influencers were activated to present Hart to its viewers, and Hart field teams hit stores and participated in nonprofit community events. Walmart was getting the Hart name out there. Inside stores though, merchandising was designed to stand out. In-line racks screamed the Hart blue color and assortment of tools. Large island displays were dedicated to the batterypowered tool line — the centerpiece of the program — and endcaps with signage showed DIY consumers using tools. Schaffer wouldn’t release specific results on how the tool line is performing in sales, but said customer reaction has been positive. She also indicated that the success so far has just been the retailer’s opening salvo with Hart. “Over time, we will continue to increase the current offering of more than 350 items and will expand to other product categories and departments beyond hardware, outdoor and automotive year after year.”

Marketing Push To bring Hart to consumers and tell its DIY story, Walmart’s omnichannel marketing campaign began with the right packaging — a look that did not scare away a casual home improvement shopper. “We created packaging that was unique within the competitive landscape and that speaks to the DIY customer,” Schaffer said. “The packaging has high visual impact on the shelf and clear benefit callout in order to simplify the purchase decision for the customer.” After that, Walmart communicated the product through

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How to Live Better in CVS CVS Pharmacy recently introduced a revamped and expanded Live Better by CVS Health store brand, adding 80 new products across nine categories. The retailer also made a pledge to make the packaging around the new look store brand at least 80% recyclable. Dispatches visited a CVS Pharmacy location in Montclair, N.J., and found the products merchandised all across the store. The packaging for the wellness products themselves was also very dynamic looking.

The product selection and promotions were most robust in VMS, where Live Better took up a solid chunk of shelf space, and tags touted a “buy one, get one 50% off” deal. The aisle signage also highlighted the fact that the Live Better products come with CVS Pharmacy’s “Tested to be Trusted” reassurance. The company required third-party testing of all its vitamins and supplements to ensure that they contain all the dietary ingredients and the amount per serving listed in the Supplement Facts panel.

Near other sun care brands, Live Better’s mineral sunscreens were on full display next to such similarly positioned brands as Sun Bum and others. In addition to a body sunscreen, Live Better’s selection included a face sunscreen, as well as an after-sun lotion with aloe vera. 46

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