As the seasons change, so do the marketing opportunities for grocery retailers. From pumpkin-flavored fall treats to floral-smelling spring candles, supermarkets have been taking advantage of limited time private brand offerings for years and they have been finding a lot of success.
The fear of missing out – known as FOMO – on a limited edition product has been proven to be a real phenomenon in the consumer space. A consumer report by WhichTestWon found that when a countdown timer was placed below an online product it produced nine percent more sales than when the product had no limited purchasing time. This might be because consumers tend to respond to a sense of urgency when they feel as if they might not have a purchasing opportunity in the near future. In fact, a study by Centre De Recherche DMSP, consumers who were considered to be high-procrastinators had a 73 percent chance of delaying the purchase of an item whereas those who were low-procrastinators had a 26 percent chance. In addition, a study by DigitalCommons at the University of Nebraska which monitored the shopping behaviors of 14 shoppers in a test shopping mall, found that participants were more likely to purchase products that had limited quantities or limited time for purchase.
This means that supermarkets that incorporate limited edition items are likely to attract consumers that have a fear of missing out on these products. In a Store Brands interview with Diana Sheehan, Vice President of Retail and Shopper Insights for Kantar Consulting, the marketing specialist shared her insights into limited time product offerings. Sheehan brought up retailer H-E-B as an example of a store that has perfected limited time product offerings. According to Sheehan, H-E-B is “best in class” when it comes to developing products that have an emotional connection to their customers.
For example, H-E-B released a limited edition Selena tote bag, in partnership with the Selena Foundation, in select stores across Texas on March 2. The response for this limited edition item was huge because most people in Texas are fans of the late singer who is commonly referred to as the “Queen of Cumbia.” In fact, the two dollar bags sold out quite quickly and reappeared on eBay for $50 nearly 15 minutes after they went on sale.
“That bag — it blew up my Facebook feed the day it came out because there were so many people asking which H-E-B store has the bags. They sold out,” said Sheehan.
H-E-B scored again when they launched a limited edition cereal with five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan, called Slam Duncan O’s, after he retired.
“It was a limited run; and when it was out, it was out,” Sheehan recalls. “But during that time, it drove people to the store in that perfect way — connecting to that Texas core using a private brand product.”
These examples are indicative of the fact that consumers want to connect with their products. Retailers can relate to their consumers through private label options that correspond to the seasons or the latest news and trends. Trader Joe’s did exactly that when they introduced a private label lemon-elderflower flavored soda just in time for the royal wedding where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they will have a lemon and elderflower wedding cake.
However, it’s one thing to create a unique limited edition item, however, it’s a completely different challenge to come up with an entire line of limited edition private label products that follow the same theme. Canadian retailer Metro’s private label brand, Irresistibles, is known to come out with different themed products under their “Collection” sub-brand. In 2017, the grocer came out with a line of indulgent food items that commemorated three major birthdays: Metro’s 70th birthday, Montreal’s 375th anniversary and Canada’s 150th birthday. The Collection product line included items such as cookies, pie, frozen seafood hors-d’oeuvres and unique potato chip flavors such as steak spice, classic caesar, bbq chicken and Montreal smoked meat.
“We looked at the categories that our clients prefer and looked at what kind of twist we could give to each product and each category,” Marie Horodecki-Aymes, Director of Design and Packaging for Metro Brands told Store Brands. “With our Collection, we’re offering them very exceptional new products that you will only find at Metro.”
With so many options to choose from, consumers want items that have a sense of urgency. The scarcity of a product also encourages consumers to stock up on it, which means that limited time offerings have a significant impact on the purchasing decisions of shoppers. Grocers are advised to step outside of the box when considering new private label product offerings. This will allow these unique private label products to stand out on the shelves and with the addition of a limited purchasing time, grocers can compel consumers to buy their products faster.