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Retail Excellence Award — Private Label

Attention to detail keeps private-label items in consumers’ minds, carts

BY Carol Radice

Innovation is a word thrown around quite frequently these days. Every company seems to be claiming that their latest products are earth-shattering game changers, poised to revolutionize what consumers are interested in buying. In reality, only a few new launches truly fit this bill, and the others, well, not so much.

In the world of private label, innovation is coming from many directions and influences, and can be seen across a multitude of categories. Within this context, most experts agree that premium private-label offerings are driving much of the interest today.

This month, DSN’s Retail Excellence Awards, or REX, recognizes the top influencers in the private-label category that are helping retailers achieve all this and more within their private-label programs.

Calico Brands
Ontario, Calif.-based Calico Brands has a long history of providing quality lighters in a wide variety of colors, styles and value. Its innovative, multipurpose lighters feature squeeze-grip ignitions, adjustable flames, flexible nozzles and wind-resistance flames. In addition, Calico Brands offers a wide array of sparkwheel and electronic disposable pocket lighters.

As one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of disposable lighters in the world, Calico Brands is a full-service company with a U.S.-based packaging and warehouse facility, featuring an in-house packaging design department, product testing and state-of-the-art packaging machines.

Executives said innovation is at the heart of how the company attracts and retains customers. “Offering the best lighter products in the industry is our inspiration to continue paving the way for new product innovation in the utility lighter and pocket lighter category,” said a Calico Brands marketing official. “Our product innovations continue to set new category standards of excellence and be a catalyst for our growth and success in the marketplace.”

Looking to set itself apart, Calico Brands focuses on producing quality products, abiding by industry standards and regulations, innovating to grow the category, and offering value and cost savings. Moreover, officials pointed out that their expertise and knowledge of the product category/industry, brand awareness/brand recognition, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, combined with its merchandising and promotional strategies, puts the company in a field of its own.

Chase Products
Since 1927, Chase Products has manufactured a variety of aerosol products from disinfectants and insecticides to cleaning products and paints, as well as personal care items and craft and hobby sprays. A leader in the “Made in America” movement, all of the raw materials Chase uses are sourced from the United States and manufactured and assembled at its Midwest plant.

Chase is a partner with more than 50 different retailers across the country to provide private labeled national brand equivalent products. Its position as a manufacturer of EPA-registered disinfectants, particularly those which kill cold and flu viruses comparably with the national brand, has helped establish it as a preferred source for retail and professional private-label formulations.

Chase Products has a lengthy history of innovation in aerosol products. Initially manufacturing and distributing pesticides, Chase was the first company to manufacture spray paint, the first to develop hair spray and package spray starch, and the first to formulate and manufacture an antiperspirant in aerosol form. In 2011, Chase introduced Champion Sprayon Green World N, the first full line of EPA Safer Choice-certified continuous-spray green cleaning products. In 2015, Chase launched its Home Value brand, 20 Made in America cleaning and personal care aerosols for the dollar/discount store market.

“Private label is no longer just about having a much better price,” said Judy Albazi, president and CEO of the Broadview, Ill.-based company. “Now it is about having a great price and great quality, so that consumers will always consider all of the alternatives. We are proud of the fact that many of our clients have been with us for 60 years, and have no hesitations in marketing products manufactured by our company.”

Edgewell Personal Care
With roots dating back to 1875, Edgewell Private Brands Group has a long history of leading the way in wet shaving. As part of the Edgewell Personal Care business, the company’s commitment to quality and innovation makes it uniquely positioned to take store brand wet shaving to the next level.

“We continue to focus our efforts on quality, innovation and delivering unsurpassed product performance,” said Tom Parker, senior channel manager at the Shelton, Conn.-based company.

Edgewell’s long-term goal, Parker said, is to help its retail partners deliver great store brand razors with meaningful value for their shoppers. Whether helping to create a winning national brand equivalent portfolio or a more differentiated approach to the store brand mix, Edgewell’s strength is in offering customized programs to meet a variety of needs. This approach has helped make them the top-ranked supplier of private-label shaving products in the United States.

“We pride ourselves on being flexible and responsive to retailer and customer requirements,” Parker said. “We work closely with our retail partners to ensure we always offer innovative shaving solutions that will meet business objectives by exceeding consumer expectations.”

Garcoa Labs
Garcoa Labs is the largest woman-owned private label, control label and contract manufacturer in the United States, according to company officials. Among other things, its commitment to quality, service, value and innovation has helped this company stand apart in a crowded field. From product and ingredient research to marketing insight and manufacturing, Garcoa has become known for creating and developing programs that are innovative and exclusive.

From concept to shelf, the Calabasas, Calif.-based company has a broad expertise in all aspects of brand and product development within a range of categories, including skin care, hair care, men’s shaving and grooming, multicultural beauty care, foot care, bath and body, artisan crafted bar soaps, baby care, and over-the-counter topicals, along with light household, limited vitamins and powder products. Always innovating, its newest offering is a line of nutritional gummy products.

Capitalizing on the interest in natural beauty products, the company recently expanded its Nature’s Beauty portfolio to include skin care, hair care, and body and luxury bath items, all featuring plant-based, nature-derived formulations.

“Our success is tied to being an innovative, ethical, all-inclusive supplier of products and programs that foster a strong partnership,” said Gregory Rubin, CEO of Garcoa. “In addition, we believe in the importance of working with our retailer partners and being transparent about what it takes to build a strong, successful private-label program.”

Global Tissue Group
Officials at Medford, N.Y.-based Global Tissue Group believe that treating every retail customer as a member of their family helps play an important role in setting their company apart from
others offering private label bath tissue, facial tissue, napkins and paper towels.

Global Tissue Group offers paper products across three tiers — standard, premium and ultra premium. Company officials pointed out that providing value, quality and consistency are at the center of their business model. Their belief is that by creating compelling user experiences, the company can help retailers build consumer brand loyalty.

In fact, GTG’s operating philosophy is to make quality the focus of everything they do for one simple reason — they use the same products that they sell to their retail partners. With flexibility at the core of what it offers, Global Tissue Group can customize its private-label program to fit a variety of retailer needs, from sizing constraints to package design. “We pride ourselves on our responsiveness and work hard to maintain a commitment to innovation, and constantly strive to improve our offerings,” said Philip Shaoul, the company’s president and COO on the GTG website.

OraLabs
Since 1990, OraLabs has been producing a variety of personal care products, including lip care, oral care, skin care, sun care, foot care, analgesics and antibacterial hand sanitizers. Products are manufactured and sold under OraLabs brands, as well as private-label, licensed brands, contract manufacturing and national brands.

The Parker, Colo.-based company has invested heavily in high-speed automation capabilities, enabling it to produce quality products at competitive price points. OraLabs’ filling capabilities, alongside its package design and research and development teams, offer retailers customized programs to meet a wide variety of needs.

“Our expertise in developing our high-quality formulations, and the fact that we are a turnkey U.S.-based manufacturer, allows us to cover the full spectrum of lip care,” said David Hirschman, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “That goes from standard sticks to the flavor profile to OTC therapeutics and cold sore treatments.”

OraLabs is expanding into private-label vapor products as well, including inhalers, topical chest rubs and vapor hand sanitizers.

Premier Brands
Holding its manufacturing process to the highest standards is one of the qualities that sets Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Premier Brands apart from its competitors.
The company’s portfolio includes more than 150 products across several segments, including foot care, first aid, sprays and beauty.

Its foot care line features gel insoles, foam and memory foam insoles, cushions, padding, and powders. The company also produces liquid and non-liquid methods for the safe removal of common warts, nail fungus, calluses, corns and bunions.

Premier Brands’ first aid products include Sterile Saline Wound Wash, Medicated First Aid Spray, Burn Relief Spray with Aloe and Liquid Bandage. The company also offers solutions and delivery systems for poison ivy, skin rashes, insect bites, scar treatment and more. In addition, Premier Brands has a private label beauty product line that includes face and body lotions, as well as wax strips.

Profoot
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Profoot has been introducing innovative foot care solutions designed to relieve pain and discomfort since 1986. Dan Feldman, president, said the privately-held company prides itself on uncompromising quality, quick order turnaround times and speed to market. His company’s nimbleness, Feldman said, is part of what helps set it apart from larger competitors.

Feldman, an avid runner, grew up in the business. During this time, he developed his passion for improving foot health and introducing products that offer relief from common foot ailments.

The company produces foot care products under the Profoot brand, as well as for key drug chains under its own store brand label. The company’s product line includes insoles, orthotics, cushions and pads that address issues caused by bunions, hammer toes, corns and calluses, fungus and the like. Profoot’s specialty product line targets such conditions as plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia ball-of-foot pain.

“Unlike many large public organizations where new management cycles through every few years, our development team has a combined experience of over 40 years in promoting foot health,” Feldman said. “What also sets us apart is that we encourage consumers to give us feedback, and take that to heart when introducing new products or tweaking existing ones.”

Starco Group
The Starco Group is best known for offering aerosol products in a wide range of categories, some of which include household, air care, disinfectants, insect control, pet care, arts and crafts, seasonal, personal care, cosmetic, OTC, sun care, food, beverage products, and wine and spirits.

Most likely have not heard of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company before, but it is responsible for creating a number of firsts in the industry. For instance, TSG developed the first spray sunscreen line that met the Whole Foods preferred list; marketed the first sunscreen with a patented spray wand; invented the first ever non-separated mineral spray sunscreen; helped create the first non-GMO and organic cooking oil spray line; commercialized the first and only household cleaning aerosol line to be approved by the EPA Safer Choice Program; and invented the first anti-graffiti coating on which spray paint could be washed off with water.

“The key for us is a relentless pursuit to create game-changing intellectual property that changes commercial verticals,” said Ross Sklar, chairman and CEO. “When we create new technologies, we often borrow raw materials from sectors that don’t typically make it into those channels. For example, we’ve used food-grade ingredients in paints before to achieve unique performance attributes. We are not your average contract manufacturer.”

Unipharma
Unipharma officials hope to play off of their success with the Drkids brand of pediatric OTC and allergy products in the private-label world. The Tamarac, Fla.-based company is offering a private-label version of Drkids to retailers. The products feature exact dosing, meaning consumers won’t have to worry about giving their children too much or too little of a medication, according to Edgar Arrieta, the company’s business development manager.

The private-label version is available in eight SKUs, including acetaminophen diphenhydramine, dextromethorphan, natural cough syrup with English ivy leaf, and a natural nasal saline solution drop with Himalyan salt.

“We offer the most innovative way to dispense medicines to kids,” Arrieta said. “The unidose packet is premeasured, and that provides a lot of relief for parents who worry whether they are giving enough or too much medicine. The best news is that one package can be used for several kids per household.”

United Exchange Corp.
For the past 25 years, United Exchange has worked hard at delivering quality private-label, control and licensed personal care, beauty, health, pet, and consumer goods to a variety of retail channels.
Based in Cypress, Calif., this minority-owned, privately-held company’s diversified customer base includes Walmart, Costco, Amazon, Target, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, 7-Eleven and more. Its products currently are distributed in more than 100,000 retail stores.

Its state of the art U.S. based and international contract manufacturing facilities, combined with its own in-house product development and design teams, enable UEC to quickly bring innovation, value and technology to retailers in a timely and cost-efficient way. Moreover, UEC’s worldwide distribution centers enable it to offer affordable, flexible and reliable shipping choices.

What makes UEC a unique consumer packaged goods company is that it thrives on innovation and a strong commitment to its retailer partners, a company official said. “Our expertise has been tried and true for over 25 years in providing quality service and value to all our customers,” said Grace Manzano, senior brand manager.

Value Smart Products
Value Smart Products, founded in 1998, is a private label and contract manufacturing company specializing in laundry and dish detergents, as well as additives. It is the largest producer of private label oxy stain remover in North America, and also is the only private- label producer of laundry scent boosters.

After six years of research and development, and a significant amount of investment developing its laundry scent booster business, Value Smart is the only company in North America with a true national-brand equivalent.

Its latest innovation centers around a distinct laundry pod offering, something the company will introduce in the next few months.

“Our business has grown tremendously as a result of our success in the laundry scent booster, oxy stain remover, laundry pod, dish and rinse aid categories,” said Drew Harrison, president of the Suwanee, Ga.-based company. What sets the company apart from others, Harrison said, is Value Smart is large enough to serve retailers’ needs, but small enough to react quickly to changes. The company values customer service so much that every retailer is partnered with a customer service manager. “VSP focuses only on private-label products, unlike competitors trying to sell branded products with private label, Harrison said. “We are very nimble and can react to changes in the marketplace or customer needs quickly.”

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