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Quality measures key to store brand appeal.

CANTON, Mass. -- Store brand specifications are taking on increasing importance as a result of recent changes in strategies surrounding private label products.

"In a traditional national brand equivalency scenario, a product was tested and that data was compared to that of a corresponding national brand," says Brett LaFrance, North America sales director for the consumer business unit at UL Verification Services Inc. "Today, there is more differentiation between some store brands and the most applicable national brands. Specifications may be needed in order to clearly define that differentiation and to create consistency once that differentiation is defined."

Even in the case of manufacturers striving for traditional national brand equivalence, specifications can help ensure a product is not only comparable to the national brand but also being consistently manufactured at the highest quality, he adds.

A deviation from testing against a national brand may raise the possibility of quality issues that could alter a customer's experience with a product, says LaFrance. "When testing against a national brand it is very easy to determine quality criteria, as the limits are created while actually testing the national brand. If there is no national brand to test against, then the quality criteria must be determined, defined and incorporated into the specification. Creating a specification that not only allows differentiation but also sets the most applicable quality standards can be important to success of a particular product."

Consumer insights can be used not only to determine if product attributes are favorable but also what quality criteria actually matter to the shopper. " Consumer insight can be used to determine what quality attributes are most impactful and to strip out any evaluations that may no longer be actionable," he comments.

Store Brand specs are important in any category where the strategy is no longer to be as close as possible to a national brand without infringing on patents, he says. Any differentiation, whether for price point items or innovative items, can be captured in a specification along with quality limits to create clearly defined expectations and consistency over time.

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Title Annotation:MERCHANDISING INSIGHTS: PRIVATE LABEL
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Date:Nov 10, 2014
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