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The Retail Brand: a revolution in marketing strategy

19/01/2010 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Barcelona

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The Retail Brand: a revolution in marketing strategy


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Lluís Martínez-Ribes (Lic&MBA 76), Associate Professor at ESADE's Department of Marketing Management, led this new session of the Refresher Programme.

Taking it as read that the so-called "own brand" market share is growing, Martínez-Ribes led a session focusing on understanding what Retail Brands are, and on providing the Alumni with some working strategies to deal with its growth, having first emphasised the importance of "always understanding the context in which we are moving, and trying to look at things from a different angle". From this point on, his speech was a series of questions which it was up to the attendees to answer; they included the concern felt by many companies facing the threat of a distributor’s own brand and various solutions to deal with it.

Looking at this situation meant analysing the evolution of brands belonging to those in retail; the first phase focused on the distributor brand (whose name and positioning depends on the distributor) and the second focused on the brand of companies in retail. This last group, he said, includes generic or brand-free products, private brands and own brands.
At the same time, he went through the three Retail Brand stages, from the range of products carrying a retail company brand, via the retail company chains’ portfolios, to the retail company itself as a brand. Although this is how it evolved in reality, the ESADE professor pointed out that "logically it should have been the other way round".

Impact brands

Focusing on the brand, Martínez-Ribes underlined the importance of "making an impact", explaining that, "in marketing, the significant thing is not the brand – it is what meaning I want to provide for my customer". Against this backdrop, he quoted Amancio Ortega, president and founding partner of Inditex, who said "the store is the best way to create a brand", in order to look at how stores can put over the idea of a brand using all five senses. The example he gave was the difference between a pack of coffee bought in a supermarket and a ristretto at the Café Florian in Venice’s Piazza San Marco. He went on to talk about businesses that have broken very successfully into the Retail World, such as Apple with its Apple Store in New York, or Danone, which has opened its first retail store and restaurant in Barcelona.

The speaker began with the argument that it is often claimed that the Retail Brand does not always do the necessary homework, then went on to ask whether distributor brands work because of the price difference. His answer was that although there may be some truth in that idea, "every product category accepts a certain price spread between brands", for example, white sliced bread or whole-wheat.

As for the idea that they work simply because they copy, here he referred to the importance of innovation, and the fact that Retail Brands can also go in for R+D, citing the example of Tesco’s egg range, which includes low cholesterol and low fat eggs. That kind of progress comes from in-depth knowledge of the end-user and the growing demand for healthy products.

Martínez-Ribes’ numerous observations formed a coherent backdrop for his conclusion that "paradigms are changing. The power-balance in the channel is tipping towards the distributor". His final comment was: "The important thing is not to be a retailer, but to be in retail".


ESADE Alumni
 invites you to this session of the Refresher Programme by Lluís Martínez-Ribes (Lic&MBA 76), Associate Professor at ESADE's Department of Marketing Management.

It is no secret that the "Own Brand", "Private Label" or "Retail Brand" market share is growing. The idea of this session is not to reel off a long list of facts and figures but rather to understand what Retail Brands are, and to come up with effective strategies to deal with their growth. Big surprises - of major significance - will be thrown up by what at first seems a symptomatic problem.

Anyone who thinks out-of-the-box, and is open to the unexpected is welcome.



Lluís Martínez-Ribes
Academic Manager of the Executive Master in Marketing & Sales Programme. Master of Business Administration in Retailing and Wholesaling from Stirling University, and Degree in Business Studies and a Master in Business Management from ESADE.
With his passion for retail innovation, a speciality he has developed over twenty countries, he manages to combine his work as Associate Professor at ESADE’s Department of Marketing Management with some consultancy work on projects of intellectual relevance.
In 2004 he won the City Marketing award for the best city promotion marketing plan with the Smuack Lleida project. In 1999, Supsa, a company to which he is advisor, won the World Electronic Marketing Award.

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