Tesco, in the news today for their profit warning, set out to build brands of their own a couple of years ago. Whilst some commentators were dismissive, others said 'why shouldn’t they?' With PR and celebrity and ‘expert’ culture so much more important than it used to be, together with the immediacy of the activities of the twittering classes, old-fashioned brand building through national, broad scale, TV campaigns may not be necessary anymore to build great brands when retailers have the distribution muscle and shelf space. Other retailers may have equally good opportunities; Boots have shown the way over tens of years, so much so that consumers don’t think of No 7 and Soltan as own label brands, just good trusted brands in their own right.
However those brands, and their plans to do more, have disappeared pretty quickly, or are now on sale at half price. Tesco have discovered that it’s not so easy to build the capability and expertise for successful consumer brand innovation, and it needs consistency and a long term approach: Boots No 7 was launched in the 1930’s. Another example of what seems to be easy when you are a leader in one market, but another sector is not really one of retailer’s area of expertise, it’s not as simple as it appears.