Jennifer B. Davis
Private-labeled products in specialized, captive distribution channels is not something new. Every grocery store has invested significantly to reposition their "generic" products in recent years to premium offerings. Outfits like Trader Joe's have taken that to an extreme and carry mostly private-labeled products. Certainly the buying power of a national grocery store chain can open some doors at suppliers and make private-label products possible. What about private labeled products for the rest of us?

Miami-based Vuru is selling nutritional supplements in personalized daily packs, packing them in cool foil wrappers. Pick any combination of their 2,000 name brand supplements and vitamins and voila! The cool thing to me was that Vuru operates an affiliate program targeting doctors, nutrionists, and others that want to create personalied supplement programs for their patients/clients. What if this concept was taken further and these items could have the brand name of the nutrition clinic on them, instead of Vuru. What if Vuru's pre-selected mixes (with names like "Women's Yoga Pack" and "The UrbanDaddy Pack") could be private labeled to other brands or "celebrities." You could market "Josh's Secret Formula" or an marathon training club could offer it's members supplements to assist in training. The appeal is the ability to have the scale of thousands of micro-sales-channels all leveraging the same backend operations infrastructure.

There are a host of "standard" products that could be marketed in these three ways: 1) personalized mixes for personal use, 2) mixes assembled by one person for purchase by another customer, and 3) mixes sold by third parties, under their own brand. Some of these are listed here:

Bottled wine sold under a private label in a restaurant or bar with the chef's special mix of Cab and Zin. Mosaic tile mixes selected by mom-and-pop home improvement stores and sold at retail and regional home fairs. Custom mixes of M&M colors (add in the custom imprinting for a double-win) created by school PTAs for fundraising. Paint color palettes selected and "renamed" by designers who market to their clients and their friends (why should Gretchen at Devine Color have all the fun?).

This is yet another way that the "small" guy can be enabled to look very big and provide a huge degree of value to their customers based on their knowledge of the market, not their knowledge of supply chain, logistics, and manufacturing operations.
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