Wake up, vendors: Retailers are getting on top of private-label game

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — "Try the brand of health-and-wellness products our pharmacists recommend," reads a new ad from Walgreens that hit Sunday papers this past weekend, extolling the virtues of the Walgreens store brand. This should serve as a wake-up call to the vendor community — particularly, over-the-counter manufacturers — that retailers are putting a greater emphasis on private label than ever before. Walgreens clearly is investing big dollars with this campaign to promote it like a national brand, to send a message to consumers that its brand is "quality [they] can trust."

(THE NEWS: Walgreens shows 'there's a way' with private-label offerings. For the full story, click here)

Like it was ever easy for an item to earn a place on the shelf, much less stay there. The news certainly raises the stakes on OTC vendors' need to communicate back to the retailer and the consumer why their brands are important and why they belong on the shelf and in the basket.

The innovative vendor will use every means available to communicate that message or die trying. What's your message to the retail buyer? What's your message to the corner office? What's your message to the pharmacists in the store and the nurse practitioners in the clinics that have the power to move your product off the shelf and into the market basket every day?

Let this serve as a wake-up call.

So ... you awake yet?