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Own brands draw on many sources of strength.

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Walgreens gives every bit of attention to its private brand products that national manufacturers give to branded items, says Beth Stiller, who leads the retailer's own brand programs.

In fact, many of the chain's private brand lines are significantly larger than national brands. "We get the benefit of leveraging our brands across multiple categories, which is incredibly powerful," Stiller says. "There are not many national brands that stretch across so many categories. That gives us a great position and great efficiency in terms of marketing and talking to customers about our products. That's tricky for a national brand to do, but with a really strong owned brand it becomes a great advantage."

Another source of strength for the retailer's owned brands is the recommendations of 248,000 employees. "They use them every day," remarks Stiller. "They understand them, and that's probably our most important as set in terms of how we promote our brands. We've got 248,000 salespeople out there who are brand champions for us."

At the same time Walgreens drives private brand sales as an omnichannel retailer with digital assets and an online business. Digital media and drive awareness and trial with different approaches for each line.

"Each brand ends up getting marketed to customers in a unique way," Stiller comments. "We're spending a lot of time right now testing and trying different things by brand to see what resonates best with customers."

Another key marketing asset is packaging. "Your best chance to drive trial is when the customer is at the shelf making her choice, so we've got a great team that works on our packaging," she says. "We've had lots of award-winning packaging prove through customer choice and loyalty that getting it right on shelf is one of the first steps to succeeding with any of our products and brands."

Long gone are the days when private brand packaging predictably knocked off the designs of national brands, she notes.

"That's the permission you get when you've got a strong brand, when you're led by the customer and are launching products under brands that the customer connects with. We can lead in that space and the default doesn't have to be the national brand equivalent in terms of packaging. Our brand stands on its own and is able to communicate its features and benefits with its own design architecture and approach."

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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Jun 16, 2014
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