HAS THE TIME COME FOR PRIVATE LABEL PET CARE PRODUCTStoblossomat he supermarket? The answer might be yes,
if—and this is a big if—suppliers can
offer products that match the quality
of the national brands while offering
consumers a better deal and retailers
the chance to make more money. Oh,
and the merchants have to be willing
to merchandise these
items more effectively
on their shelves too.
On second thought,
maybe we are not
Like the baby care
segment, which pet
care is most often
compared to, this category has not been
very inviting to private label. Consumers
want products they
can trust for their young kids and their
pets, and branded items have always
fared better than private label when
it comes to these two segments. Plus,
price has always taken a back seat to
reliability with most shoppers in these
It also did not help that there were
not a lot of private label manufacturers of pet products in the marketplace,
perhaps kept away by the very fact that
there were easier ways and categories
to build private label sales.
That is until recently. A walk
around last month’s Private Label
Manufacturer’s Association’s (PLMA)
annual show in Rosemont, Ill., found
a number of companies sensing an
opportunity with the pet category.
Officials at these companies say they
are looking to grab a share of the huge
pet care industry, and they are backing
their bids with claims of dramatically-
improved products and a pricing struc-
ture that is practically guaranteed to
improve just about any retailer’s bot-
tom line. Plus they say that more and
more consumers are coming onboard.
Companies that produce private
label pet products will have to push
very hard to get retailers and consumers to buy in to their message. Still,
there might be an opportunity for
these vendors to grab additional share
of sales as national brand manufacturers continue to raise price-points on
everything from pet food to leashes
and collars to pet medications.
The onus will be on the vendors to
prove to retailers—and to shoppers—
that they can fulfill all of their needs
with a selection of private label items in
the pet section. Let’s see how they do.
WHILE PRIVATE LABEL IS TAKING THE FOOD
SIDE OF THE BUSINESS BY STORM, many
attendees of the three-day PLMA event
said that the same enthusiasm does
not exist at anywhere near the same
level on the nonfoods end of the busi-
ness. And, suppliers say, that is squarely
the fault of grocery retailers that have
made it clear that they do not want to
venture too deeply into the general
merchandise and health and beauty
care business with private label.
Private label suppliers say retailers
should give them a shot, especially
with the beauty care categories where
dramatic strides have been made over
the last decade with quality in comparison to national brands. And, as a
little push, many note that the key drug
store chains have done a great job with
their private label products in such categories as hair care, external analgesics
and even oral care.
“I can tell you that CVS and Walgreens
are going full throttle with private label
across the entire HBC segment,” said
one manufacturer at the show. “There
is no reason in the world why some of
these supermarket chains cannot do
the same thing and make some more
profit from these categories.”
But suppliers are not giving up either.
“It is just a matter of time before more
grocery retailers get more involved
with us on the nonfoods end,” he said.
“The profit is just too great.”
Companies that produce private label pet products
will have to push very hard to get retailers and
consumers to buy in to their message.
PURSUING PRIVATE PET
Private label manufacturers are sensing newfound opportunity in the pet aisle.
By Seth Mendelson
Seth Mendelson is publisher
and editorial director of Grocery