Private label – Public lie

privatelabelAs a marketing professional and avid shopper, I cant be the only one who has “Discovered” the lie hidden by the label. It caused some shock I must admit, coming from medical and aesthetic device sales where our manufacturer made the products.  My competitors had similar brands, but they were also “made” by their company, with some exclusive features and benefits.

If I recall correctly, I first noticed this slight of hand with topical skin care lines.  From the “professional” only to the mass marketed, something smelled funny, and it wasn’t just the ingredients.  It seemed (as I found out much later), that most of the “proprietary” big names came from one or two of the same formulation labs.  The percentages of whats in the jar may differ, but they all came from the same place…..?

So what really made many of these “Lotions, potions, and scum from the ocean” different, was quite frankly…the Label.   Registered “Trademarks” was really the only thing separating the “hype” from the hope when it came to topical skin care, and it doesn’t stop there…

Flash forward a few years when I’m serving as “Brand Manager” for a “private labeled” product for scar reduction.  The base ingredient was marvelous, but also promoted by multiple companies under a variety of brand names.  We simply targeted physicians, performed a clinical study, used a special processing, and had better marketing.  But like the bottled water industry, the “name” is the game…

So during these past few years, my buyers radar has been on full alert.  Case in point, Starbucks has a neat travel coffee mug for $27.  I hesitated as the “Starbucks” logo seemed to be nothing more than a sticker.  Later that day, during my daily “WalMart walk-about” (3 laps around the perimeter for exercise followed by retail therapy), I noticed something odd.  An identical stainless steel travel mug, without the Starbucks sticker; for $9.00, American…

Certainly, I bought the cheaper of the two, but in today’s retail environment, its definitely “buyer beware”.  Even if we do outsource labor and import cheap crap these days, the only thing “Made in America” might be the price tag…

My affinity for bargain hunting has exposed many similar “scams”, with labels hiding the true origin, or actual producer of a product.  I’ve discovered briefcases and luggage, golf shirts and shoes, cigars and beer, with the only difference being the name that appears..

The next time you go shopping for whatever it may be, read the labels and observe the competition.  I think you will find that its not just the politicians that lie…

Private label – Public lie

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