|GHQ| TALKING SHOP
How is the private label business performing right now?
Steve Saraf: Private label household paper products are taking on
an increasingly important role for our customers, especially mass,
club and dollar stores, which have recently seen the largest growth.
When household paper is involved, the average basket size grows and
spending per shopping trip nearly doubles. Additionally, the quality
of private label products is on par or exceeds that of national brands,
giving retailers more confidence to develop a private label strategy
and boost their margins.
Technology, such as TAD ( Through Air-Dried), has allowed us create
softer, more absorbent products and to compete effectively in premium and super-premium quality tiers. We are also seeing a greater
demand for value, especially in bath tissue and paper
towels, through “mega” and “giant” rolls, as well as
larger “club pack” sizes.
Household paper products are a necessity for most
consumers and private label’s value proposition is
undeniable and clear. The 2008 recession gave consumers permission to switch from national brands to private label as a cost savings and to buy larger packs with
which to load their pantries. Today, nearly 75 percent of
consumers buy private label brands out of preference.
As a result, U.S. private label paper sales growth has outpaced that of
national brands by far, especially in paper towels.
What do retailers need to do to maximize sales volume with
private label paper products?
Often the answers are in their store data. We work with our retailers
to delve into their consumer demographics and shopping behavior
to clearly define their target customer—from basket size, category
spend and product preference, to demand for “green” products as
We also help them to concentrate on the one or two top-selling
SKUs in each tier and product segment, rather than matching each
and every branded SKU. The latter can dilute overall category sales
and make it more difficult to achieve annual volume requirements.
From a promotional and merchandising point of view, drawing a
direct comparison to national brands on-shelf, on-package, or both,
most clearly communicates the value proposition and helps to build
What makes U. S. Alliance Paper unique in the marketplace?
We have been successful for two key reasons: we are a family company, and we hold fast to our founding principles of quality, flexibility
As a family company, we can be more nimble and flexible in meeting our customers’ needs, and turn on a dime to deliver the exact product spec—when and where they need it. We are able to proportionally
reinvest more in our facilities and in fully automated, computerized
converting equipment. This allows us to continually raise the bar on
quality, and configure our manufacturing lines to the exact needs and
specifications of our customers—from custom sizes, counts and packaging, to pre-packaged display configurations.
What types of products does U.S. Alliance Paper
We offer our customers private label paper towels, bath
tissue, napkins and facial tissue in the full range quality
tiers—value, mid-tier, premium and super-premium—
and paper grades, such as conventional fiber, recycled
and Forest Stewardship Council certified virgin fiber
and TAD. In short, we are able to fit into our retailers’
private label strategy anywhere along the spectrum.
We also offer a number of control brands for retailers with lower volume requirements—attractively packaged and ready to go. Guided
by consumer preferences in various channels, we developed the Earth
First line of 100 percent recycled products with 80 percent post-consumer content and no chlorine bleaching; the Daisy line of kitchen
towels, bath tissue, napkins, and facial tissues specifically for the discount and dollar store segments of trade; and the Delicate Touch line
offers consumer-tested package configurations for grocery and mass.
What does the future hold for the category?
Private label’s value proposition to consumers is clear, and together
with our retailers we will continue to innovate and expand the penetration of private label paper at the expense of lesser-performing
secondary brands. Private label paper products will continue to gain
share as we focus on products and packaging that deliver on convenience, such as strong, multi-use paper towels; on value as seen in
larger rolls and bulk pack sizes; and on sustainability through our recycled fiber and certified virgin fiber.
WITH STEVE SARAF
Steve Saraf, vice president of sales for U.S. Alliance Paper, says private
label paper goods sales growth has outpaced that of national brands.