UNO April 2019

The consumer is the key to success for white label brands

A few years ago, so-called “white label brands” were found mainly among convenience products in consumer segments such as food and hygiene, especially during difficult economic times. Reduced investments in image and advertising translated into economic benefit for customers, who became loyal to these products.

White labels traditionally had no place in the fashion business, where a brand was seen as a seal of quality, design and prestige and whose consumers expected those traits from their garments and accessories. Today, however, garments have a social or cultural imprint that enables others to easily draw conclusions about, for example, the lifestyles of two similar women from their attire.

However, this phenomenon, in which a designer embodies a brand and represents exclusivity, isn’t the only guarantee of quality anymore. In the fast-paced fashion world, we are evolving toward an era in which a brand can becomes iconic while led by anonymous designers and with an unceasing production chain that seeks to satisfy the consumer’s desire for the latest trend as quickly as possible, whether it’s in the print of a shirt or the texture of a shoe.

“In the fast-paced fashion world, we are evolving toward an era in which a brand can becomes iconic while led by anonymous designers and with an unceasing production chain”

Along the same lines, technology for gathering relevant information and accessing that valuable data has allowed the industry to forge fashion brands focused not on price, but on connecting with consumers through design, quality or some other distinguishing feature.

Gabriel Farias, an expert in textile procurement, explains that the industry should move toward predictive analysis, as “being in the latest trend no longer guarantees sales and profitability in the fashion sector. In minutes, consumers can find and share a trend on social networks.” It is necessary to place an emphasis personalization, adapt to individual needs and ensure availability and delivery as key elements for a brand to set itself apart in the minds of fashion consumers.

A couple of years ago, Amazon launched its own white label brand, which has enjoyed continuous and exponential sales growth. Although its design standards may be minimal, it offers a marketplace for buyers who either require this type of garment or seek a return to the basics. These are the same people targeted by affordability in craft foods movements, as they would rather manufacture their own products at home in the name of simplicity and authenticity.

El Corte Inglés, for example, has sought to create an extensive list of its own brands for high-end products that compete directly with large organizations. Another example is Grupo Éxito in Colombia, who, through an alliance with renowned national designers, launched a joint high-quality collection, positioning itself in the hearts and minds of consumers.

At Almacenes De Prati, we have spent more than 15 years developing a robust portfolio of white label brands. Together with local suppliers and a team that gives life to these brands, we have reversed national and international purchasing indicators, giving preference to Ecuadorian products aligned with the latest fashion trends and high quality standards.

Owned brands have become the cornerstone of De Prati’s local value proposition, as opposed to a strategy that responds to a particular moment or community. It is a strategy that requires ensuring the selection meets the highest quality, design and proposed value standards.

With a portfolio of 10 owned brands, our customers—women, men, youth and children—can follow trends while also enjoying a shopping experience tailored to their lifestyles, whether in a physical store or online. In terms of own-brand sales, we have seen double-digit and single-digit annual growth over the last two years, respectively, which reflects their popularity.

The launch of a fashion brand’s own collection should involve multiple company departments, from those in charge of defining the garments in the collection according to each brand and design, to the local talent team.

Regarding distribution and final in-store product display, we seek to be a point of reference in terms of communications. For example, we carry out interactive initiatives with the corporate brand or with influencers with whom both the company and customers share values.

“Owned brands can add value to the fashion industry, strengthen local and international competitiveness, adjust to today’s demanding consumers”

The key to our own brands’ success lies in understanding our customers’ tastes and preferences to locally adapt global fashion trends while also focusing on product quality, working in conjunction with a team of talented designers, buyers and, above all, strategic suppliers.

Owned brands, in short, can add value to the fashion industry, strengthen local and international competitiveness, adjust to today’s demanding consumers and ultimately find a permanent home in your wardrobe.

Soledad Ponce
Senior Marketing manager for Almacenes De Prati
She has more than 20 years of experience in brand strategies, advertising, e-commerce and communications. She worked at Telefónica Ecuador for 16 years, holding positions such as Marketing manager, regional Indirect Sales manager and regional manager of Companies. Later, she moved to the retail sector as the senior Marketing manager for Almacenes De Prati, the main department store in Ecuador and a leading brand in the sector. She is a senior Marketing technician who trained at Tecnológico Espíritu Santo and holds a degree in Sales Administration from the Catholic University of Guayaquil, as well as a postgraduate degree in Administration with a concentration in Marketing from ESPOL (Guayaquil, Ecuador). [Ecuador]

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