Retail Branding: Ah Ha! Familiprix!

Recently I was listening to “The Age of Persuasion” on CBC Radio One, which discusses issues and innovations in Marketing and is hosted by Terry O’Reilly.

This particular episode highlighted an extremely popular advertising campaign run by Quebec drugstore chain Familiprix – which now has 250 stores across the “Belle Province”.

If you are reading this outside of Quebec, you may not have even heard of Familiprix, and most certainly not the very famous campaign they used to grow and protect their business.

O’Reilly takes us back to 2002, when Familiprix was a much smaller chain and competing with Jean Coutu and Uniprix to gain pharmacies; while all of the Quebec chains were under attack by Shoppers Drug Mart who was aggressively pursuing pharmacies to become part of their Pharmaprix brand.

(Listen to “Age of Persuasion” here. Starts at 09:00 and runs approx 3 minutes)

The campaign used humour for the first time in the Drug Store category and this simple and low cost campaign raised the top-of-mind brand awareness of the Familiprix brand from 19% to 46% (vs. 90% for Jean Coutu).

See an example of the spots here.

The campaign became a cult classic and the topic of much water cooler discussion.

While the campaign was very popular with Quebec shoppers – driving chain sales by 30% – it also built momentum and buzz behind the Familiprix brand helping the business recruit 21 new pharmacies and keep their current pharmacies from defecting to SDM.

I thought this was an interesting example of how brand building by the retailer is such a critical part of the business strategy of retailers today.

Once the domain of the big CPG firms – brand building is more and more the domain of retailers. It involves both the brand over the door and increasingly the positioning of private label and exclusive brands like President’s Choice (Canada’s largest CPG brand, by the way).

The long run retail war – especially for smaller players cannot be fought on price alone. The value delivered by the brand (service, experience, assortment, etc.) will tell whether the chain will survive in the face of EDLP retailers like Wal-mart (who are also investing heavily in their brands).

As CPG suppliers we must look for ways to help retailers build their brand at the same time as strengthening our own brands. Our brands must be able to live “within” the retailer’s brand – as they set the context for where shoppers will find our products.

Ah Ha! Familiprix!


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