Tuesday, June 15

Duped by Private Label

It finally happened to me. I've been in marketing for a LONG time. I know their tricks and I finally fell for it -- private label products. They do everything in their power to mimic the market leader, and they've gotten pretty good at it.

Walk down a drug store or grocery store aisle and in almost every major category you will see a private label knock-off of the market leader. It's uncanny how close some of these private label products look like the major brands. Logos, colors, packaging materials, photography ... the entire essence of a brand's packaging can be replicated by a private label product.

I don't understand how they can get away with it quite honestly. Brands should be allowed to trademark their branding and their look.

Anyway, it finally happened to me. I was at the grocery store on Sunday and thought I was buying a big bag of Splenda for baking. It swear that I picked up Splenda off the store shelf and put it in my grocery cart. Then the entire time I was home and we were using the product, I thought it was Splenda.

I did notice a little difference at first, but still didn't think more than twice, kept on with the baking. But then it hit me. We made a blueberry pie and there was just something not right about the taste. So I went to go check the Splenda label and that's when I noticed.

I bought "Sucralose" instead of "Splenda". You cannot believe how close the Sucralose packaging is to the Splenda packaging! Almost criminal. I honestly don't know how they get away with it. The problem is that the proof is generally in the pudding. Or in this case, the blueberry pie. The private label version just didn't perform, as is often the case. Not always the case, but often.

As a marketer, I have a problem with that. As a builder of brands, private label makers should build their own brands, not just copy others. Many grocers have their own house labels, which become brands unto themselves. Nothing wrong with that because tha is legitimate marketing. But doing an exact rip off with the intent to confuse just violates every ethic of marketing that I know. Makes me crazy.

What's your experience? Jim

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