Brand strategy, architecture and design for retailer brand portfolio overhaul towards iconic brands

The Shoprite Group is Africa's largest food retailer, operating over 1750 corporate and 360 franchise outlets in 15 countries. U$ave is its no-frills discounter, focusing on lower income consumers. Its smaller format, limited range stores are an ideal vehicle for the Group’s aggressive expansion throughout the continent. In this fiercely competitive retail market, the U$ave products were at a further disadvantage because as private label brands they were afforded no budget for point of sale, promotions or marketing. U$ave needed to achieve a more prominent position against well entrenched heavily market brand leaders and attract the attention, and ultimately loyalty, of their market. In short, the U$ave private label portfolio needed new brands and new packaging design that would give them a better chance of standing out on shelf.

The new, connected African consumer demands more than cheap prices. My solution was to develop a strategy that would provide a framework for the development of strong, iconic brands using heavily emotive visual cues that carried strong associations. Icon brands infused with emotion and a sense of familiarity would entrench customer loyalty for products they could relate to and emotionally connect with. The research phase revealed that the unbranded or weakly branded products were not inferior to their competitors; yet the odds were stacked against them, purely due to the lack of strategic branding and enticing packaging. I based the strategy on leveraging the bold, extrovert personality of the mother brand, Shoprite, to create a platform on which to build the new iconic brand identities that could be woven into diverse societies and cultures.

I divided the project into complementary parts, from generating a segmentation model of consumer connectivity, to measuring the depth of brand development and emotive content required for each brand. Individual positioning migration strategies were developed for each brand to ensure that we did not overreach in our enthusiasm, and leave the field altogether. Name generation, trademark and packaging design were also part of the requirements. Global consumer convenience principles, packaging concepts and production were researched. Zero-waster retail-ready carton innovations were designed, prototyped and explored with global partners and an expanded product architecture was also investigated whereby iconic and small batch consignments, celebrity-endorsed ranges and others could be introduced to offer a more colourful and complete product range, and so broaden the consumer base.

The retail rewards? The playing field was levelled. Cut-price products achieved the same, if not greater, leverage as price-competitive brand leaders. The positioning of the entire private label portfolio shifted from that of cut-price products with weak brands at best, to that of a genuine competitor that delivered on price, functionality, value-add and emotional engagement. Viva low price, new look supermarket sales

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