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Walmart Tests New Premium Private Label

October 5, 2010

While Walmart U.S. executives have indicated they will focus on private label less in the future, it seems the chain has simultaneously been dabbling with the introduction of a new premium food brand under the World Table name and evolving packaging on Great Value and Equate.

world tableWhile in Bentonville recently, Store Brands Decisions found the World Table brand in a Supercenter and a Neighborhood Market by Walmart. Displayed was an endcap of World Table salsa varieties retailing for $2.28.

Also during the store visit, Store Brands Decisions noted a packaging redesign of Walmart’s Equate over-the-counter remedies line in several categories. This roll out is assumed to be in progress as both old and new Equate packaging was found on the shelf. The new Equate packaging features similar use of “compare to…” on label messaging utilized by Target’s Up & Up brand to induce direct comparison with national brands.

EquateAssumed to be initiatives of the prior regime before the recent restructuring, the premium store brand test and OTC redesign were unmentioned by Bill Simon, U.S. president and CEO, who took the helm mid-summer. In fact, the message has been one of private label de-emphasis rather than expansion.

At a Goldman Sachs meeting in New York recently, Simon said that although private label remains important and it plays a strategic role in the business, it will be primarily used I the future to “fill holes or gaps in our offering.” He noted: “We are a house of brands. We prefer to sell national brands. They show our product better -- excuse me -- they show our value better.”

EquateDuring a recent industry conference Walmart executive Michael Ellgass answered a question from the audience about World Table referring to it as a brand that will deliver “original authentic flavors at Walmart prices.” He noted that World Table will “democratize great food.”

It is uncertain if Walmart will move forward with its World Table line of premium international foods, although it could represent a second “lifestyle brand” to compliment the retailer’s Marketside private label meal-to-go offering.

Strategy work on Walmart’s World Table brand was done by Sterling-Rice Group.

john faillaSBD Views:  As noted in my Sept. 21 post, Walmart’s commitment to ongoing improvement and a measured approach to store brand growth are reflected in Great Value’s new packaging, the redesign of Equate and the testing of World Table as a new lifestyle brand. With that said, it’s safe to assume that you won’t hear anything substantial from Walmart on World Table until the first half of 2011.