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IGA Stores Using Private Label Food Brands To Benefit Wounded Warriors Project

Now through November 11, 2011 participating IGA stores across the United States are offering $0.05 to the Wounded Warrior Project for each case of certain private label food brands sold.

This is an echo of a similar effort from participating IGA stores undertook for the Wounded Warrior Project from Memorial Day last May through Labor Day earlier this month. Only instead of private label foods it was for cases of IGA private label water and the donation amount was $0.10 per case.

In turn, that seemed influenced by a campaign Kroger did for breast cancer research in October 2010.

IGA is a huge buying and distribution cooperative for 5,000 member stores in 40 countries. The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit charity that raises money and awareness for the nation’s injured service members. I became aware of this effort via a news announcement from the IGA in tiny Wendell, North Carolina, east of Raleigh.

I’ve been agitating for private label cause marketing in these pages since November 2008.

Here’s why: in recessions private label brands do very well. But once the hard times are over, consumers return to the name brands.

But if a cause marketing effort could help an outfit like IGA preserve even 5 percent of the customers that switched during the recession, it could potential be worth tens of millions to the bottom line every year.

In the declining economy, people in the UK, the US and elsewhere are buying more private label brands.

Of course they are, you say. What could make more sense than to get the same-quality or nearly the same quality for a meaningful savings?

When the economy dips, sales of cheaper house brands and generics take off. And when the economy recovers consumers tend to go back to the major brands.

For the foreseeable future, price is going to be major driver for the consumer.

Imagine this scenario: a shopper faces two cans of cream of mushroom soup, the store brand and the dominant brand in the US, Campbell's. The store brand has respectable quality and is cheaper per ounce.

In a face off like that, Campbell’s market share would erode very seriously sans their incredible market shelf space and decades-old Labels for Education program, in my view.

Now if the private label brand started a well thought-of cause marketing campaign of its own, all bets are off.

Is IGA’s effort enough to do all that?

Well nationwide veteran’s causes poll out very well. And North Carolina is home to 8 major military bases, including the monstrous U.S. Army post Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne, and Camp Lejeune, a major training base for the U.S. Marine Corps. By contrast, my lightly populated home state hosts just two major military installations.

But my take is that if private label brands really want to engender long-term customer loyalty, they’re going to need something that is permanently embedded into the products, just like General Mills' Boxtops for Education is.

And it goes without saying, I think, that the donation amount has to be more than a nickel for a case of canned goods. A nickel or even a dime per case is just not a serious amount.

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