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    PRIVATE LABEL: A&P’s Clear Preference

    As part of a comprehensive expansion and overhaul of its own brands (private label) product lines, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) decided to revamp its existing Preferred Pet product line. To accomplish this, the Montvale, N.J.-based grocer retained strategic branding consultancy CBX.

    As part of a comprehensive expansion and overhaul of its own brands (private label) product lines, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) decided to revamp its existing Preferred Pet product line. To accomplish this, the Montvale, N.J.-based grocer retained strategic branding consultancy CBX. As A&P VP, own brands, Doug Palmer noted, “We recognized the need for the design architecture to be updated in 2007 and launched the new design in 2009.”

    With improved product quality and a plan to raise the brand’s store profile, New York-based CBX set out to redesign the Preferred Pet brand and develop a brand system addressing the entire pet category, including dry, wet, dog, cat and treats. This involved analyzing the category’s dynamics to ensure a clear product quality message.

    “The goal was to reposition the brand from its present state as a value offering in the category to one that was more appealing to consumers’ emotional connection with their pets,” explained CBX SVP/partner Todd Maute. “The redesign focused on evaluating the branded activity in the category and marrying that with the desired position that A&P wanted the brand to have. Additionally, A&P wanted the brand to have a greater shelf presence and promote ease of shopping. Therefore, the CBX design presents an immediate emotional message by utilizing a graphic heart element hugging the pet and utilizes white to stand out in a sea of branded color, and also uses color coding to improve flavor differentiation.”

    Added Palmer, “The products were developed with the idea that pets are part of the family, and that high-quality food items were essential to attracting the serious pet owner.”

    An A&P employee volunteered her pets, which were rescued dogs, to serve as models on the packaging, giving rise to the idea of putting rescue animals from various shelters on labels across the entire product line, with their stories on the back panel, thus tying into pet owners’ general interest in animal welfare. The first items of the revitalized line to roll out were canned cat and dog foods, and the new look and improved product quickly became popular with shoppers, according to Palmer. “Preferred Pet is performing to expectations, and we are receiving positive feedback from our customers,” he said.

    As far as future directions the pet category may take, Preferred Pet is prepared to capitalize on them, both A&P and CBX affirm.

    “We believe organics as well as new product forms will continue to develop within the pet care category,” observed Maute. “The humanization of pets (as family) will drive the category to [bringing] more human elements to flavor profiles, nutritional needs and dietary needs for pets. Additionally, if you look at the pet category in different countries [m] both form and flavor are very different [from in the United States] … I wouldn’t be surprised to see [more] refrigerated foods, fresh foods or even heat-and-serve foods in the future. You may even see pet food in the meat department some day. With that, the Preferred Pet brand is properly positioned to participate in new product and nutritional trends that you may see in the near future.”

    Palmer seconded that assessment. “Preferred Pet was designed for the future, so that [when] any evolving trends emerge, we are ready,” he said. “Pet indulgence appears to be a growing trend. Despite the economy, consumers are still pampering their pets.”

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