How a private brand became one of Canada’s most influential.

By Jeanie Hendrie

The mandate of Brands We Love is to expose the unknowns. To celebrate great brands that no one else is talking about. Recently cracking the top 10 list for Most Influential Brands in Canada, President’s Choice is the opposite of unknown. Well, too bad blog mandate, my love for this brand is so strong – I don’t care who knows it!

(Cue Tom Cruise couch-jump)

Despite their contribution to the bottom line, few private brands earn the same accolades as their national counterparts. Too often, they are reduced to gap fillers in the retail universe of ‘good, better, best’.

And yet – in an industry notorious for its razor thin margins – one of these private brands has broken convention to become one of Canada’s most influential.

As a PC AficionadoTM (one is bestowed this distinction upon consumption of their 1000th Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie), I could pontificate for hours on reasons why this brand is world-class. But recognizing that not everyone may share my love, I’ll keep it brief:

  1. Anchor Products: That old adage of ‘do one thing really, really well’ applies here. The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie is a household staple for many Canadian families. These are to PC what yoga pants are to Lululemon.
  2. Opportunistic sub-branding: Blue Menu for the healthy; Black Label for the foodie. PC has grown its brand responsibly, responding to food trends that are current but more importantly, sustainable.
  3. Constant product innovation: Fresher frozen meals, wild ice cream flavours, bacon marmalade…President’s Choice is more than a part of the foodie revolution, it’s shaping it.
  4. Smart brand extensions: Premier sponsorship of Recipe to Riches, a competitive reality series where Canadian home cooks battle to have their original recipes become a President’s Choice product.
  5. Easy rewards program: Joining the PC Plus loyalty program was a dream. I was simply handed a card. No paperwork. And, just one email a week. For once the messaging frequency makes sense – a grocery store is one of the few retailers I visit on a weekly basis. Retail spammers, take note.

For all of these reasons and more, President’s Choice has become a beloved Canadian brand. But as we are painfully aware, consumers vote not with their hearts but their wallets. What’s the verdict? In the past year, Loblaw Companies is up over $10 a share. And with a brand new multi-million dollar campaign in field this month, we can only imagine the country’s most influential private brand had a little something to do with it.