There is always place for conversation about private label brands, no matter the conference. This category continues to grow so it was great to hear from Peggy Davis today, a pioneer in the space.
Facilitated by my friend Chris Durham of My Private Brand, Peggy shared her experiences with the birth of private label and her career.
Have you been around long enough to remember this brand?
Back in the 1970s, Why Pay More? was Laneco's entry into the private label brand business. Laneco was a grocery chain in eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. At the time Peggy was starting her career in grocery and was instrumental in helping Laneco explore this new path. Through trial and error, new product categories were explored and the concept stuck. Surprisingly though, back then, quality didn't matter. It was all about price. Well, no wonder many private label brands have a bad reputation.
In 1985, Peggy made her way to Daymon Worldwide and Wegman's, one of my favorite premium grocers on the east coast. Wegman's had just started exploring private label, a big step in the premium space, and asked Peggy to lead the way. Creating some disruption, Peggy pushed the team into categories they hadn't considered before. They went into the space of private brands conservatively but have embraced it fully. Continuing to focus on building the premium reputation of the Wegman's brand, the product had to meet quality expectations if it was going to take shelf space inside this beloved retailer. Customers expected quality no matter the brand. This expectation was met and Peggy could confidently say that at no time would you hear any Wegman shopper say, "I wouldn't serve that to company." 30 years later, Wegman's continues to embrace their private label family of brands and likely has one of the best selections in the country.
Peggy has done great things as a pioneer in this space. And while she pleads for more women to enter this traditionally male dominated category, she is proud to be the only female inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame. Peggy continues her career today as VP, Vegetable Business Unit and Industrial Sales for McCain Foods.
If you're female and working in the grocery and/or private brand space, I encourage you to get involved with WISE - Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence. You can learn more here. Womeninstorebrands.com
Peggy, thanks for paving the way.