- In an interview with the digital channel Cheddar, Jet.com president Liza Landsman said consumers have historically had to compromise with private label, and that Jet developed its Uniquely J line with a focus on creating compelling packaging as well as a quality product at a fair price point.
- Landsman said Uniquely J had been in development for more than a year, predating Walmart's acquisition of Jet. The company carefully examined attributes that were important to its core millennial customers, including fair trade and organic. “About 60% of the products we launched have [organic] certification because our insight from those consumers tells us that’s a really important factor to them beyond price and quality,” Landsman said.
- “It’s really designed for our core customer, which is that more affluent, urban millennial,” Landsman said. “That focus on our core demographic is a big part of our business going forward and has been historically, and it’s why we’re such a complementary brand to the Walmart family.”
Private label has come a long way from the cheap, inferior products commonly known as “generics” that lined retail shelves in decades past. These days, thanks to a convergence of factors including manufacturing innovations, consumer curiosity and the growing desire to differentiate the store experience through unique products, grocers carry private brands that are at least equal to national brands on quality, and usually surpass them on price.
To say that Uniquely J offers national brand quality at a better price is certainly true. But the real evolution the line represents is in its packaging. This includes coffee bags splashed with skulls and bear prints, bottles of salsa lined with peppers arranged in various patterns, and variations of a purple cross-hatch design that appear on boxes of tissues.
What happened to typography? To lifestyle shots and clean designs? Jet, which has catered to affluent millennials since its founding in 2014, found its customers want beautiful packaging as well as a high quality product. They want a bag of coffee that can double as a conversation piece, and dish soap bottles that contribute to a kitchen’s aesthetic in addition to getting pots and pans really clean.
Jet, which Walmart bought last year for $3 billion, has rapidly grown its assortment under the mega retailer and the stewardship of co-founder Marc Lore, now head of Walmart’s e-commerce division. Beyond its assortment and its private label moves, the site has a gamified shopping system that lets shoppers lower their final price by making a series of choices on shipping speed, return policy, and other factors. Jet also offers free shipping on orders $35 and above, and recently revived its JetCash rewards program. According to a recent report from Field Agent, shoppers prefer Jet.com for packaged groceries over Amazon, Target and even Walmart.com
Jet hopes Uniquely J can give it an edge over Amazon, which has slowly grown its own assortment of grocery lines, including Happy Belly and Wickedly Prime. With its Whole Foods buy, though, Amazon now has a storehouse of in-demand private label products to put on its site. Look for the two sites to continue ramping up their private brand selections over the coming months and years. Other grocers, meanwhile, will have to continue evolving their own brands, both in terms of quality and design.