Some question whether retailers can successfully market their store brands when their business is retailing, not. But as we’ve all seen over the last few years, retailers can build their brands just like a consumer packaged goods firm can.
One way they’re doing so is by hiring people from the CPG side of the business.
Safeway was a pioneer in this area when it hired Brian Cornell as executive vice president and chief marketing officer in 2004. Before coming to Safeway, Cornell held senior management positions at PepsiCo.
Cornell used his CPG experience to do great things for Safeway. Cornell used consumer research and other techniques common to consumer packaged goods companies to help develop a new brand image for Safeway.
After Cornell came to Safeway, other retailers started looking to the CPG side of the business for talent.
Cornell has since moved on, and is now president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s Sam's Club division.
Cornell came to mind while I was listening to Maurice Markey, vice president of private brands at Sam’s Club, speak at the Private Brand Movement Conference. That’s because Markey, too, comes from the CPG side of the business (Kraft.)
Bringing in people with a CPG background gives retailers a unique perspective, and helps their brands stand for something special. Under Cornell’s leadership and with executives like Markey on hand, Sam’s Club obviously gets it.