DMA Solutions Wraps Webinar Addressing Private Label Concerns; Dan'l Mackey Almy and Mackenzie Wortham McLeod Comment
DALLAS, TX - “The presence of a brand gives a shopper a reason to purchase.”
Dan’l Mackey Almy, President and Chief Executive Officer of DMA Solutions, is no stranger to the conversation surrounding private label. In our November issue of The Snack, Dan’l touched on the above sentiment, and why the issue of private label can be a prickly topic. A summary of who private label impacts can be found here for those looking for a deep dive.
What we’ll be talking about in this article are next steps for suppliers looking at how to build a brand even when private label accounts for a significant portion of their business. During the webinar series, Marketing Matters, Dan’l and several members of the DMA Solutions team discussed this during the presentation, “Private Label: Who Does It Benefit?”
A poll to those in attendance noted that a combination of both branded product and private label product accounts for their business. Attendees expressed frustrations and concerns regarding how to invest in marketing for a brand, especially if retailers want private label from them. Luckily, the DMA team had feedback aplenty.
One piece of the puzzle that Dan’l noted is how the history of produce marketing initially made it difficult for growers to communicate with the consumer in an impactful and scalable way.
“We haven’t always been in a position to connect directly with the consumer and as retail consolidation accelerated the need for private label became more of a reality in order to secure consistent supply. Private label has served this industry well, in some instances. However, the consumer now is a lot more educated, and we have the ability to engage shoppers more than we ever had before. In wanting to establish trust with consumers, private label doesn’t benefit us as it historically has,” Dan’l shared.
A consistent question the DMA team has seen speaks to this question: Why would we do our own marketing if a large percent of our volume is private label?
“Our answer is always the same. If I’m thinking about it from a strategic standpoint, I want to seek out the customers who care about the total offering that we have: high-quality products, food safety, sustainability, and marketing. There are plenty of retailers out there who believe in the power of brands. So, my advice is to seek retailers who value and understand today’s consumer and their desire to connect with brands,” Dan’l explained.
She also suggested that when big retailers want your product in private label, to be careful when it comes to how much effort and volume you put in.
“At the end of the day, you could be switched out tomorrow, so I’m always going to side with investing in your story and your name and your connection with the customer,” she said.
During the Q&A portion of the webinar, the team went further to address how suppliers can make the case for their brand and how it might improve sales for retailers—especially if that retailer comes to them insisting on private label.
Dan’l noted that one way to make it easier for shoppers to care for your brand and your product is to have the store locator on your website so they can easily find you—branded or not.
“There are so many ways to address this, because private label is not something that will go away,” Dan’l expressed. “I think staying true to a committed brand is not something we should relinquish just because we’re being forced in some cases to do private label. If I had a produce company, I am sure a portion of my business would be in private label, but I wouldn’t want that to be the majority of the volume. Because at the end of the day, you don’t have control, and you’re not building connections with the ultimate customer.”
Finding retailers that care about the products the way growers do is half the battle as you build out a strategy.
“When you’re making the case to retailers about carrying your brand versus private label is investing in unique varietals or convenience products or a UPC unique to you. If you haven’t quite gotten into marketing yet but you have a product that is unique to you, you can position that in your case to the retailer,” Mackenzie Wortham McLeod, Account Director, added.
Brands also drive foot traffic because they give shoppers a reason to go to the store that carries the brand they prefer.
But, driving foot traffic is only another part of the battle, as the team noted the supplier concerns of costs for separate packing lines for both branded and private label packaging. The takeaway, however, is that shoppers have become savvy enough to want that connection to their food—and that is heavily dependent on marketing and branding.
Building out a strategy for your brand is a time investment, the team conceded, and not one to be taken lightly. Perhaps the immediacy on ROI won’t be obvious, but building up trust with consumers will ultimately win the day.