Private Label Brands as a Digital Differentiator

Brand & Positioning Strategy
Content & Messaging
Site & eCommerce
Advertising
October 1, 2020
Grocery

Key Takeaways

Site & eCommerce Strategy — Dedicated Product Line Pages with Set Deliverables: Loblaws’ supports its private labels by heavily investing in their digital advertising ($13.8M over the last two years), building out and supporting their own branded digital properties (websites and social media accounts). Loblaws’ gives certain product lines extra emphasis by carving out unique web-pages on their President’s Choice® website such as PC® Blue Menu and PC® Black Label. Each page follows the same design and delivers on two main objectives—introduce the product line in a succinct manner and to showcase the breadth of products. Every element of the page contributes to these two points, providing customers with a clear idea of why they should shop these products and what they can buy. 

Paid Search Tactic — Ideating Content via Search Data: Joe Fresh used search data to inform their ad copy for their paid search ads. Products such as “loungewear” and “sleepwear” saw a significant spike in search interest due to quarantine efforts for COVID-19. In turn, Joe Fresh ran ads promoting loungewear in their ad copy and used trending hashtags found on social media such as #stayhome. 

Advertising Strategy — Treat Private Label Brands as its Own Brand: When Loblaws engages with promotions for their private label brands, they do so under each brands’ own social media platforms and not the Loblaws’ parent account. The linking experience from these promotions are also unique, with each brand usually having their own landing page or standalone website. This allows each brand to:

  • Form its own unique branding and customer base, such as no name vs President’s Choice®. 

Properly customize its target audience segment when advertising. While no name can target the no-fuss consumer who wants simple and cheap, Loblaws can use PC® Black Label to target an audience base that wants higher-end, quality food from different parts of the world.

Site & eCommerce Strategy — Feature Private Label Brand Products Prominently on Other Owned Sites: On Real Canadian Superstore’s website, President’s Choice® products are featured heavily throughout the homepage. From the flyout navigation to secondary features to footer tiles, there are multiple touchpoints for customers to access the product line. Despite the volume of touchpoints, each feature is unique and has its own selling point. Be it hidden with a holiday-themed product collection page or packaged as an easy go-to family meal recipe, Loblaws has found a way to bring its private label products to the forefront. 

Site & eCommerce Strategy — Provide a Clear Path to Conversion on Informational Pages: While the entirety of no name’s website is non-transactional and information based, Loblaws has made it simple for customers to access their products by featuring a “buy now at” module at the bottom of each page. This “buy now at” module is much larger than what is normally featured on most websites and is made even more obvious by the lack of additional information on the page. Each page on no name’s website is bare-bones, and therefore, short, so the footer module takes up anywhere from ⅓ to ¼ of the entire page, making it hard for customers to miss out on.

In addition to ad spend directly attributed to Superstore, Loblaws has also invested heavily in digital advertising for its clothing, private label, and app sub-brands over the past two years.

Loblaws - Digital Ad Spend
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3

In comparison, Safeway has not invested in advertising their private label brands while Walmart has spent just over $50K combined on its brands, Equate and Great Value over the last 2 years. Sobey’s is the closest competitor with a total spend of $1.1M on its Compliments brand.

Walmart - Digital Ad Spend
Ad #1 , Ad #2

Looking specifically at President’s Choice®, Loblaws’ has spent a steady amount on the brand over YouTube and Facebook in the past two years, with the exception of August 2019.

President's Choice - Ad Spend - YouTube and Facebook
*Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.

In August 2019, Loblaws’ launched a series of video ads for its “90,000 Meals” campaign. They spent over $1M on this campaign alone.

Loblaws - 90,000 Meals Campaign
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3

Campaign Message:
To “make the most” out of all your meals because each “meal is an opportunity to fall in love”. Their main spot, talks about “90,000 Meals”, which refers to the number of meals an average person consumes in a lifetime. In the spot, it features several people as they try out different foods, new meals, or even trying to avoid eating certain things.

Campaign Objective:
To showcase the breadth of products within the President’s Choice® brand. 
The main spot ends off with a highlight reel of several different PC products as well as the copy “with over 300 new products every year, there’s always something to discover.”

Aside from the difference in advertising spend, Loblaws’ is the only brand to have unique social media profiles for its private label brands.

President's Choice - Private Label Brands - Ad Campaigns
*Average monthly video views over the past 2 years (Oct ‘18 to Nov ‘20)

Their advertisements are done under their private label brand social accounts while competitors like Sobeys and Walmart uses their main social accounts to promote.

In addition to its own social media profiles, the President’s Choice® brand also has its own standalone site, unlike brands like Equate (Walmart) or Signature (Safeway).

President's Choice - Standalone Site
*Average monthly web visits over the past 2 years (Oct ‘18 to Nov ‘20)*N/A = not enough data (web visits) to calculate

The only competitor that has given their private label a similar treatment is Sobeys’ Compliments brand, who also has its own unique website. 

Sobeys - Private Label Brand
*Average monthly web visits over the past 2 years (Oct ‘18 to Nov ‘20)

Compared to Compliments:
Monthly web traffic to presidentschoice.ca is almost 6 times higher than monthly web traffic to compliments.ca

Compared to Equate and Signature:
While presidentschoice.ca gets roughly 223K monthly web visits, monthly web traffic to Equate's brand page and Signature’s brand page is too low (insignificant) to be captured.

Diving deeper into the President’s Choice® brand and website, the brand has expanded to include over 10 different grocery product lines since its inception in the 80’s.

President's Choice - Grocery Product Lines

Aside from its main line, President’s Choice®, Loblaw’s places the heaviest emphasis on these five key product lines:

Loblaws - Five Key Product Lines

Each of these product lines has its own, dedicated page on the President’s Choice® website.

President's Choice - Product Lines

Meanwhile, Compliments’ product line page leads to a product listing page, with their different product lines showcased as a filter option.

Compliments - Product Line Page

In comparison, each of President’s Choice®’s product pages are unique and deliver on two key deliverables– the first being highlighting the unique selling point of each product line.

President's Choice - Product Pages

The second key deliverable is showcasing the wide range of products within each product line, as done in two different modules, a “Discover the latest” and “Explore it all”.

Discover the Latest

Loblaws then ends off each page with a recipe feature, a great way to show customers practical usage of their products.

Loblaws - Product Page - Recipe Feature

Recipe pages are also a great opportunity to cross-promote products from different lines.

Recipe Pages

Loblaws’ has also made sure to feature the President’s Choice® brand prominently on its store brands, like on the Real Canadian Superstore website homepage.

Real Canadian Superstore - President Choice

On RCSS’ main navigation and “Latest Updates” panel, there is a callout to a PC® Insiders Collection® webpage.

RCSS - Latest Updates Panel - PC Insiders Collection

This page is holiday-themed and solely focuses on President’s Choice® brand products only. Product choices and carousels and are themed and timely, as is with their recipe features. 

President's Choice - Holiday Edition

Themed Product Features:
Rather than sticking with the usual “latest” or “bestselling”, include unique product themes that tie back into the overall theme, such as “leftovers” or “holiday snacks”

How to make a cheese board:
Opens to a page with a how-to video and a product carousel of various cheese products from the PC® brand that customers can purchase.

Another one of Loblaw’s popular private label brand is their no name brand. Loblaws does not invest in digital ad spend for this brand as it does with President’s Choice®—there has only been one executed campaign the past two years.

Loblaws - no name

In September 2019, no name ran their largest marketing campaign to date (in the past 40 years) to drive awareness around their new “Simple Check” program. This “simple check” marks foods that are free of 10 unhealthy ingredients (e.g., synthetic colours, artificial flavours, etc.).

Loblaws - Simple Check

The digital campaign revolved around YouTube videos where the new products were showcased through no name’s signature, straight-forward branding and copy style.

no name - YouTube Ads

In preparation for this marketing initiative, no name debuted their Twitter account earlier that year, amassing thousands of followers with their on-brand, simplistic tweets.

no name - Twitter

To date, no name generally uses their Twitter account to promote awareness around their products through consistent branding, witty captions, and community engagement. 

Lastly, for Loblaw’s owned fashion brand, Joe Fresh, their website drives 5X more traffic compared to President’s Choice, generating 1M visits per month on average. 

Monthly Web Traffic

During the midst of the pandemic, Joe Fresh saw a +96% increase in traffic in May, driven by paid and organic search.  

Joe Fresh - Monthly Web Traffic

During that time period, around April and May, Google searches for keywords related to “sleepwear” and “loungewear” experienced a significant spike.

Google Search Interest - Sleepwear - Loungewear

At the same time, Joe Fresh updated their paid search ads efforts to include trending hashtags during COVID-19 that relate to “staying at home”, such as #stayhome. They also started advertising their loungewear collection and offering promotions such as free shipping.

Joe Fresh - Paid Search Ads - #stayhome

Another key factor to Joe Fresh’s high web traffic volume compared to President’s Choice and no name is likely due to the fact that joefresh.com is a full-fledged eCommerce site whereas the other two brands’ website is geared towards education and providing information.


Joe Fresh - Transactional Site


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