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Unlocking the retail media opportunity for private-label brands

In March, I had the opportunity to travel to San Antonio, Texas, to speak before the audience at PLMA’s Annual Conference and Leadership Meeting about the global rise of retail media and the power it has to evolve retail for retailers, brands and shoppers.

Retail media isn’t new, but it has become really exciting, especially as advertisers seek new methods to attract and target shoppers amid cookie depreciation.

At Threefold, we define retail media as any advertising run by retailers offered to brands. This means numerous opportunities exist to reach shoppers across retailers’ e-commerce apps and websites, in-store via analog media and digital touchpoints, and off-site on platforms such as Meta and Google. Retail media enables brands to target shoppers across their purchasing journey right up until the point of purchase. The consumer journey is no longer linear; retail media meets shoppers whenever and wherever they shop.

Retail Media Networks are advertising platforms set up by retailers for brands.
Retail Media Networks are advertising platforms set up by retailers for brands.

While retail media has historically been viewed as an investment channel for major CPG brands, there is immense potential for private-label brands to get in on the action. Private-label sales in the US have soared over the past several years, particularly as consumers seek greater value amid economic pressures. But when prices improve, consumers often return to name-brand CPG products. Retail media can offer private-label brands the opportunity to build a loyal consumer base and grow market share regardless of economic conditions at a given time.

That’s because retail media offers data-driven advertising for brands of all shapes and sizes. Retailers own deep data and insights about their shoppers via their loyalty programs. That data is valuable for all brands, including private labels. Retailers’ first-party data, for instance, can indicate whether a shopper is brand loyal or whether they’re brand loyal in specific categories, offering pivotal targeting insights for private-label brands.

Dean Harris, Head of Co-op Media Network, joined me virtually to share how Co-op, the top convenience retailer in the UK and Threefold’s partner since 2017, has approached integrating its private-label brands into its RMN. One of the major hurdles for private-label brands is getting consumers to try them in the first place, Dean said. Retail media can help with that.

Once shoppers have tried private-label products, data suggests they’re more willing to become repeat customers because they realize the products are high quality at an attractive price point. Private-label brands can utilize upper-funnel retail media tactics to drive awareness of their products, pushing consumers to try products even in better economic periods.

Data from Plan-Apps proves that retail media is a beneficial investment for private-label brands.
Data from Plan-Apps proves that retail media is a beneficial investment for private-label brands.

Private-label investment in Co-op Media Network has seen success, with campaigns showing impressive ROI that demonstrates the effectiveness of the channel for these brands. In fact, Dean said private-label brands have a built-in benefit from the retailers’ own marketing and branding efforts.

“In the shop itself you have this really appealing opportunity for the private-label to convert on the brand equity that the retailer has already funded to convert,” Dean said. “So we see quite high ROI when a private-label brand invests because the retailer has done all the hard work.

“When you walk into a Co-op, the Co-op logo is on the front, the Co-op logo is on the aisles,” he added. “When you get to a fixture, if the private-label can stand out, it’s already been warmed up with the shopper and can be an easy go-to at the point of purchase.”

Retail media significantly influences shopper awareness, interest, perception and learning about new products and brands, making it a crucial component of marketing strategies for national brands and private-label alike. Retail media is not just a trend but a burgeoning landscape poised for exponential growth, presenting significant opportunities for private-label brands to capitalize on and foster loyalty.

About Amber Roberts

Amber Roberts is the Partnership Director at Threefold, where she leads the team building retailer partnerships in North America. Amber joined Threefold in 2023.

As a seasoned retail veteran, Amber has spent nearly two decades working across the industry, from Fortune 100 and Global 300 companies to startups. Amber previously spent about four years working for Kroger, where she was one of the first digital hires, established the framework for its current RMN offering and launched several multi-billion dollar businesses and alternative revenue streams.

Most recently, Amber worked as a consultant for small- and mid-sized grocery retailers to develop their omnichannel marketing strategies.

About Threefold

Founded in 2008, Threefold is the world's leading Retail Media Network (RMN) specialist, headquartered in both New York and London. As part of the SMG agency network, which employs over 360 retail media experts, Threefold's primary mission is to unlock incremental CPG budgets, curate media campaigns that supercharge sales and elevate its retail partners into top-tier omnichannel media owners, spanning in-store, off-site and online.

Threefold's services include consultancy, evaluation, and a white-label in-house solution that has seen the agency build, run and operate over 10 Retail Media Networks to date. In the UK, Threefold runs and operates Walgreens' Boots Media Group and Morrisons Media Group and additional live partners include major retailers like Asda, The Co-op, Signet Group and The Very Group.


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