Getting on message with own label

Independent range

Woodlands Local has never had an own label range to offer its customers, but that’s about to change as a selection of the Independent range is set to be added to beef up the grocery offering.

by Antony Begley

Despite it being clear for many years that own label products have a role to play in modern convenience retailing, and despite the stratospheric growth of the discounters who rely on own label, we have never had an own label range within Woodlands Local in our two years at the store.

In the areas where own label traditionally performs very well – such as grocery – we’ve never been particularly strong at the store, relying more on hot food and traditional convenience lines like soft drinks, confectionery and crisps.

We’ve also been wary of introducing any own label lines that would immediately and blatantly link us to one or other of the wholesalers or symbol groups. Woodlands has always been, and is always likely to remain, an unaffiliated independent store.

Better data

But with a couple of years under our belt now, we have been able to focus in on the areas of the store that have been under-performing – and one of those is clearly grocery. We’ve always put this down to the fact that we have a discounter and a major multiple within a few minutes’ walk of the store and have just taken it on the chin. But we’ve now decided to give ourselves more of a fighting chance in this area by introducing an own label range that will give our shoppers a value for money option across a lot of product categories.

After much discussion and debate, we’ve decided to introduce on a trial basis a broad selection from Costcutter’s attractive and well-presented Independent range.

The deal will not affect our agreement with our existing delivered wholesaler JW Filshill and our strategy is to offer our customers two options for as many products as possible: one branded premium line for customers who only want Heinz Baked Beans or Hellman’s Mayonnaise; and one own label Independent option for shoppers seeking products at the more value for money end of the scale. There will be nothing in between. Branded or own label. Black and white.

Space creator

Interestingly, when we’ve been working with the team at Costcutter to analyse how many lines we should (and could) introduce, we’ve worked out that by going for only two options on each line (branded or own label) we actually free up many linear metres of shelf space. So much so that we reckon we can add in dozens upon dozens of new lines on day one.

While there are hundreds of products in the Independent range, we have yet to settle on a finished range for our own needs but the bright packaging and prominent price marked packs should help maximise standout on shelf and help establish the Independent products as a true ‘range’ in the eyes of the customer.

On a more personal point, the Independent range isn’t overtly linked to any wholesaler in the eyes of the shopper and the ‘independent’ message is one that our shoppers are likely to associate positively with.

Once the range is on shelf, the next step will be to try to steal back some shoppers from our discounter and supermarket neighbours by communicating the new range via Facebook, leaflets, local press advertising and the Woodlands Local Rewards Club, among other channels.