For years, private-label designs in North America had been rather blah. Every SKU

For years, private-label designs in North America had been rather blah. Every SKU

had the same sterile look and design. ‘The same font, the same look, the same positioning for everything,’ says Maria Kennedy, president and CD at Vancouver-based design shop, karacters. Today, however, individuality reigns. Why? There’s finally recognition, says Kennedy, that there is big value

in design.

For Shoppers’ part, it’s something the drugstore giant has earmarked as having huge potential for growth. While its private labels account for only about 12% of business, for drug stores like Walgreens in the U.S. they represent about 35% of sales. And part of Shoppers’ strategy to catch up and become more desirable to consumers involves design.

Kennedy herself realized the potential a few years back on a European séjour. While strolling through aisles in the U.K.’s biggest drugstore chains, Boots and Superdrug, she saw that their private labels were designed to stand alone in each category. Each SKU had its own fashionable look.

‘When we started developing Life brand, especially the health and beauty products, we used that system of individual desirable products,’ she says. And with the new look comes new appeal. ‘It stands out as a premium product that you want to use,’ she says, ‘but it comes at a value price. Value [however] became secondary in our design principles,’ she adds. ‘We wanted to make the best-looking product [a consumer] could have.’

Now into the third year of redesigning the Shoppers Drug Mart line, Kennedy has most recently implemented this new philosophy in the company’s over-the-counter products. In Sweden, for example, in one chain’s private-label drug products, all the information a consumer needs is upfront. So the dosage, size of the pill, the number of pills in the bottle and strength come in an easy-to-read panel on the front of the bottle. It’s a look that found its way onto similar Shoppers’ products earlier this year. ‘We wanted everything to work for the consumer. It’s always on the same place on the package and it’s always in the same style.’

Next up, vitamins. The design has just been approved and should show up on Shoppers’ shelves by the end of the year, says Kennedy.