As we approach the 2011 Private Brand Movement event, Sept. 19-21 in Chicago, we'll occasionally be rounding up some of the breaking news in the private brand and private label world. Let's take a look back at recent developments:

Kroger made waves by taking the lead on banning BPAs from private label packaging, which we covered here.

Brand such as Family Dollar's Family Gourmet and continued to make headlines for being an economical choice.

Natural Food Network suggested readers invest in organic private labels such as those found at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

A Research and Markets report explored private label brand awareness amongst retail shoppers.

A Private Label Buyer article, "Walking the Private Label-National Brands Tight Rope" c/o Retailwire looked for the private label saturation point in supermarkets.

And My Private Brand pointed out a report that predicts "Private Brand Will Take 50% Share of Food Retail Market by 2025"

Steve Madden stepped up their private label game by buying Topline Corp for $55 million, a move that expands their existing successful private label footwear business.

Campbell Soup revealed their position on creating or expanding private label products here.

What private label news did you come across lately? Is there anything we missed?

For an in depth discuss of the Private Brand Movement, join us in Chicago this September, download the brochure here for more information. Plus, follow us on Twitter @Private_Brand for exclusive event information and discounts and the most up-to-date private brand news.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at

Kroger is planning to start banning BPA from their products, asap. Kroger first rid the chemical from its baby products, and now the supermarket will start to remove it from their canned goods as well. BPA is a controversial chemical that’s used to harden plastics in an effort to preserve the product and also to protect it from contamination. “Some studies have shown that BPA can leach into food from the cans. In fact, 93 percent of consumers have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study this month found that exposure to the chemical during fetal growth affects the development of reproductive systems and, in babies, can lead to neurological problems.” Europe and China have both banned BPA in their baby products, but they are still legal in the US.

“Kroger's move affects its private-label brands, which include Kroger, Value Brand, Private Selection, Comforts, Mirra, Active Lifestyle and Fresh Selections.” Private-label brands are not only more cost effective, but are now becoming more environmentally conscious too. With the recession and the ever evolving ‘go green’ attitude, will Kroger’s BPA-less product threaten sales for other brands? Which will you choose?

For more about the private brand movement, visit or follow us on twitter at @Private_Brand.
One of the best resources for Private Brand news,, recently called our attention to a new report "Supermarket Own Label Products: The Shoppers Perspective."

Digging into the details of private label shopping, this report promises to explore the 42% of shoppers who, on average, say they sometimes buy private label brands. Topics covered include:
  • Key findings and summary
  • Retailer overview – Own label offering
  • What is own label
  • The private label shopper: current adoption and changing behavior
  • Perceptions of private labels versus national brands
With the number of shoppers who consider private brands growing all the time, and major brands from Supervalu to Best Buy to Kohl's expanding their private label offerings (and seeing sales success as a result), this information should prove to be valuable to anyone interested in the behaviors behind private label buying.

Two questions that are at the forefront of many minds: What stops customers from picking up a private label product? And what do shoppers see as the strong points of private label brands?

Has your brand done any research about the behaviors of a private label shopper? What sorts of techniques or technology do you employ to find out more about your shoppers perspective? Eye-mapping? Something else? Share with us in the comments!

Interested in learning more about the Private Brand Movement? Join us this September at the Private Brand Movement 2011 conference.

Interested in more information on consumer insights and shopper research? Check out the The Shopper Insights in Action Conference, July 11-13th in Chicago.

This post has been reposted from the Shopper360 blog.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at
We are excited to announce, as anticipated, Shopper Insights in Action 2011 has reached record breaking registration levels. With 181% more retailers than last year already, it is clear, now more than ever before, that the industry has spoken; Shopper Insights in Action truly is the Voice of the Industry.
2011 is THE YEAR you do not want to miss.

Only this event offers you the unique opportunity to shape the future of retail with the smartest in the business. Just take a look at this year's outstanding speaker faculty , it is BRIMMING with industry icons alongside the most intriguing combination of point of view, practical experience, industry expertise - you will not be disappointed!

This is your chance to hear directly from the source how you, in your role specifically, can influence the path to purchase and ultimately sell more. Retailers already confirmed to participate include:
Ahold USA
Best Buy
Canadian Tire
Charming Shoppes Inc.
Darden Restaurants
Electronic Arts
Family Dollar Stores
Giant Eagle
Harley Davidson Motor Company
Jenny Craig
Oakley Inc.
Price Chopper Supermarkets
Publix Super Markets Inc.
Sam's Club
Sears Holding Company
Staples, Inc.
Sunset Foods
Tesco's Fresh & Easy
TJX Companies, Inc.
Toys 'R' Us
Walgreens Company
Williamson Dickie Manufacturing Company

To see a sample of all the companies already registered to attend please click here:
Can you afford to NOT be at Shopper Insights in Action this July? Join us as we co-create in the moment with your industry peers and leaders.

Register by this Friday & Save $200! Please mention your registration priority code: SHOP11BLOG
Phone: 888.670.8200

The Shopper Insights In Action Team

* Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities Available
Please contact Jon Saxe at or call 646.895.7467

On my way into work this morning I saw a headline on "The Epoch Times" (a free paper that is handed out to pedestrians on the street in New York City). What caught my eye was a story about McDonald's re-inventing its brand. There was a picture of the flagship McDonald's which was right down the street from us at FUSE in Chicago. McDonald's is apparently spending $1 billion dollars to re-create its image in an attempt to distance itself away from competitors such as Wendy's and Burger King. It now has its eyes on more "upscale" markets like Panera Bread and Cosi. The article then goes on to tell us that David Palmer of UBS Securities calls this a potential "game-changer" for the chain. McDonald's is also serving new foods such as gourmet coffee, fruit beverages and oatmeal. I'm wondering if this will take or not. It seems to be a drastic move.

It reminds me of the "New Coke" move that Coca Cola Corp. made decades ago. That however, was a simple change in recipe which resulted in an unanticipated explosion of free publicity when Coke changed its recipe back. This left Pepsi in the dust. What luck that was for Coca Cola...

If this doesn't fly for Mickey D's what does the future hold for them?...

“American Gothic”

by Grant Wood (1930)

Moving on we found ourselves in front of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. We stood staring at the painting for a moment before Annie asked us all to turn around. Once the painting was behind us she asked us to tell her what we remembered seeing. The group replied by throwing out adjectives and simple descriptions… “a man and a woman”, “farmers”, “unemotional...”

We turned back around and the discussion became about assumptions. The painting is so well known. We’ve all seen it on coffee mugs and T-shirts. We discussed our preconceived notions and how they affect our different perspectives. We spoke about how this image has so much meaning in American culture and yet how it is also looked at as a cliché.

Brendan then pulled out a pad of paper and drew “IX” and he said, “With one line make this a 6.” The group made a few attempts at a solution to the puzzle before Brendan finally drew an “S” in front of the “IX” making it spell “SIX”. He never said a straight line and he never said that it was a roman numeral. We all made those assumptions on our own.

We headed toward the photo gallery and passed sculptures from vastly different eras and cultures.

Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and “Catalyst Ranch”

We entered the institute and were greeted by Annie and Brendan who gave us a brief synopsis of what we were embarking on for the day. The group sat quietly. We ate pastries and drank coffee and juice. That took what felt like about 4 minutes…

“The Rock” by Robert Blume (1944-1948)

Before we knew it we were in the museum in front of a World War II era painting by Robert Blume entitled “The Rock.” The colors were beautifully painted. Reds, blues, grays, earth tones… The composition was masterfully executed. The subject matter was of a group of industrial era workers in a production line working frantically, banging hammers, shoveling, moving rocks… They were twisted in cartoon-like and rubbery movements and their work seemed to be directionless and oppressive. To the right of the scene was a dilapidated Victorian era house with plumes of smoke in front of it from a bonfire created by one of the workers. To the left, a more modern looking construction site in the background representing more of the international style of architecture. And centrally sat the rock from which the painting got its title. It was on an unstable pedestal with the skeleton of an unknown animal just beneath it. The painting communicated chaos, desperation and oppression.

Annie led the discussion asking us what our impressions were. We discussed our initial reactions… what colors we saw first, what feelings we experienced, etc. and as a group we critiqued the work. What made the discussion compelling was a self-consciousness that Annie fostered. Throughout the day she repeatedly encouraged us to understand our own reactions to the pieces we were observing. She encouraged us not to point at the pictures but to try and express our thoughts with words. Rather than focusing on what the art “meant” or what the artist was saying, we as a group were looking into ourselves and identifying our own reactions. There was no right or wrong. As a design professional, I found it a refreshing contrast to what I am used to.

Brendan then geared the talk more in the direction of how we can use the same kind of dialog in our everyday business environment. We considered the idea that many times in a more corporate setting, there needs to be a right way and a wrong way. Ultimately this is how we filter things down to the lowest common denominator and get to the “bottom line.” Annie advised us that many times we need to be going through these thoughts on our own while at work because many times business people see little value in open ended discussion. “Keep the party in your head…” She said.

IIR is the parent company to the FUSE conference. As Creative Director at IIR I am truly honored to participate with such an incredible network as the FUSE community. Recently I took on the task of writing this blog with the intention of extending the FUSE conversation beyond just the three days out of the year that it occurs. I begin writing with a synopsis of my own experiences from the event in Chicago, 2011, but I hope that as I explore all FUSE has to offer, the posts become more rich and engaging and that I find more of you designers and marketers (who attended or even who did not) to find value in what I have to offer. Its a tall order but I will do my best. Stay Tuned!!!


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