Barbie & Joe – Building National Brands and Private Labels Together

It is obvious that Private Labels have become a larger part of the CPG landscape in recent years.

Retailers (or at least the good ones) are using their range of private labels to reinforce connections with their shoppers and strengthening the brand above the door.

Suppliers (or many of the ones that I speak with) are on the defensive as the space in-store for shelving and promoting national brands continues to shrink due to the increased focus on private labels.

My approach has been to encourage suppliers to broaden the space available to their brands by finding ways that the national brands can support complimentary private label products.

The examples that I have seen have been fairly basic. Branded soup with PL crackers, branded ice cream with PL ice cream cones. You get the idea.

This week, I heard about a much more inspiring example.

Loblaw and Mattel have teamed up to “broaden the space” available for Mattel’s Barbie brand and Loblaw’s Joe Fresh Style brand.  You can read more about their groundbreaking arrangement here.

The question is: “When will Joe Fresh Style start selling miniature versions of their line-up for actual Barbie dolls?”

Costco has also played in this space with its Kirkland Signature brand and leading national brands. Kirkland Signature has included Coffee Beans Roasted by Starbucks, Jelly Beans co-branded with Jelly Belly and Appliances co-branded with Whirlpool in the past.

The main message is clear – both retailers need to work together to see how they can partner to grow their brands together instead of seeing each other as competitors where the size of the prize is fixed and there can only be winners and losers.

As Mattel and Loblaw have shown – both sides can be winners. We just need to put our thinking caps on.


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