Wal-Mart relaunches and expands private label after extensive testing

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 18th March 2009

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, this week released new details about the expansion and enhancement of its ‘Great Value’ private label brand, which sees the chain attempting to capitalise on interest in private label goods as consumers look to reduce costs.

The company will introduce 80 new products as well as change the formulas for 750 existing products after an extensive period of testing, which they believe has resulted in their goods being comparable to national brands. The US-based retailer’s ‘Great Value’ brand, first introduced in 1993, spans more than 100 categories and is currently the America’s largest food brand in both sales and volume.

Walmart claimed they had worked with several hundred suppliers and product testing facilities to:

* Test more than 5,250 products against leading national brands to ensure similar or better quality;
* Conduct more than 2,700 consumer tests to compare the flavour, aroma, texture, colour, and appearance of Great Value products against leading brands;
* Change the formulas for 750 items including: breakfast cereal, cookies, yogurt, laundry detergent, and paper towels; and
* Introduce more than 80 new products, such as: thin crust pizza, fat free caramel swirl ice cream, strawberry yoghurt, organic cage-free eggs, and double stuffed sandwich cookies.

“”Through our Great Value brand re-launch, we are delivering on our promise to provide customers with the quality products they need and want at a price they can afford to help them save money and live better,” claimed Andrea Thomas, Walmart’s senior vice president of private brands. “The packaging is simple, it’s clearer and it’s much easier to find. We’ve created a package with better pictures on a white background so it really pops off of the shelf and that makes it easier to find when they go aisle to aisle on their shopping trips.”

The news is a sign of the times, with supermarkets looking to push their private label brands forward as the downturn presents the perfect growth opportunity. And Walmart appears keen to lead the way as they introduce more innovative goods, improve the design of packaging and test quality more than ever before. They are also asking consumers to rate and review their products online.

According to new consumer data from GfK Custom Research North America, 75 per cent of shoppers, say the “current economic conditions” are playing a big role in their decision whether to purchase national or grocery store brands. Additionally, three out of 10 consumers in the study say they are now “buying more store brand products” compared to a year ago, and more than 77 per cent of respondents “agree” that the store brands they buy “are as good as, if not better than, national brand products.”

In Australia, the share of private label has been rising, with Nielsen reporting a record private label market share of 22.1% in 2008. And this is only likely to rise as IGA, Woolworths and Coles all plan to expand their offerings in the coming year.