BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's here has launched a new store brand called A-Plus for its soft drink products in order to boost its share in the category.
"A-Plus is a new private-label name for Albertson's, but it only applies to soft drinks," said Mike Read, the chain's director of public relations and government affairs, who was interviewed by SN. Initially, the new label will be used for cola, diet cola, grape, orange, lemon-lime and root beer flavors.
"We weren't getting as much penetration into the soft drink category as we had hoped with our Janet Lee brand," explained Read, referring to the chain's existing private-label soft drink line. "So we think this is an improvement in packaging and in our formula, which should allow us to get better penetration.
"The thinking is that the A-Plus label will replace the Janet Lee label in all of the stores that operate under the Albertson's name," Read said. "But we will continue to carry the Janet Lee product in our grocery warehouse stores, which operate under the Max name."
A-Plus will be priced "a little bit more expensive than the Janet Lee brand, but still value-priced compared to national brands," Read said.
Despite the change to the A-Plus name in Albertson's units, the chain is being cautious when it comes to tagging the product a premium tier compared with the existing private-label line.
"We really view it as a national brand equivalent, which is the way we position and market all of our private-label brands," explained Read. "The whole idea behind private label is to offer a
product that's as good as or better than a national brand, but at a price that is better for the consumer."
Toronto-based Cott Corp. will manufacture both the A-Plus and Janet Lee products for the chain, in cans and assorted PET containers.
"We're delighted to have Albertson's [as a customer]. They're a very important and prestigious customer for Cott," said David Goldman, vice president of corporate development for Cott.
Goldman said that with Albertson's on board, Cott now has more than 60 customers in the United States and approximately 100 worldwide.
"This is another major customer and a milestone toward continued progress in the United States," he said.
Read said that for now, Albertson's is uncertain whether the A-Plus label will be expanded beyond the soft drink beverage category to other grocery items.