Metro private label products get a redesign

The grocer teamed up with Pigeon for a design competition to reboot two Irresistibles beverages.

Pigeon-contestStudents at Toronto’s OCAD University and Montreal’s Collège Salette are putting their design skills to the test for a grocery banner’s private label.

The students will create new designs for two product lines for Metro’s Irresistibles (a private label with 1,000 products across all food and drink categories), as part of a design competition developed alongside Pigeon Brands.

Beyond seeing their packaging on shelf, the winning designers will land a paid internship at the Toronto and Montreal Pigeon offices and recognition for outstanding work in design. The second place prize, as well as a “Student’s Choice Award,” will be decided by the student faculty and will be awarded by Metro.

Elyse Boulet HeadshotThe judging panel will include experts from Pigeon, Metro, the participating schools and Christopher Durham, president, My Private Brand and co-founder of the prestigious Vertex Awards.

Elyse Boulet, senior VP Pigeon Brands says the team selected OCAD University and Montreal’s Collège Salette based on their strong reputations for incubating design talent in Canada. Students are being asked to design the label for two flavours of a beverage product, which Metro will not disclose until the final reveal.

The challenge: create unique and distinctive design that’s in line with its current branding (logo, colour, certifications, product name and flavour). Students will be judged based on criteria such as concept rationale, design, creativity, market understanding and viability, as well as overall presentation.

And they are being asked to highlight the premium nature of the private label, taking into account things like ingredients.


Marie Horodecki-Aymes

Boulet says the idea for a competition was hatched over coffee with Marie Horodecki-Aymes, director, design and packaging private brands at Metro (pictured above). “Marie and I were talking about how giving back to our community is so rewarding,” she says. The discussion then extended to helping potential design leaders of the future, while giving them the chance to gain real-world experience on a project for a massive Canadian retailer.

Horodecki-Aymes says the millennial generation was raised with private brands, so these are an important part of the retailer’s strategy. “If you look to the latest Nielsen numbers, you can see that private brands and small brands are the ones driving the growth of our sector,” she says. Competitor Loblaw recently launched its “Food Lovers Unite” platform to call attention to its private label brands. And according to recent data, Canadian consumers are increasingly seeing private labels as comparable in quality to their name-brand counterparts.

She says the Irresistibles brand is not monolithic, so each product has to have a personal and subtle way to express the product’s uniqueness but also its belonging to the brand, which is what makes the exercise a challenge for students.

When it comes to the design competition, Horodecki-Aymes says it’s important to give young professionals a chance to strut their stuff. And with this competition, which launched September 24, she says the brand wanted to give students the opportunity to work with their professors on a real-world case, very similar to what it would be like if an agency were working with the brand.

Winners will be announced at the end of the year with a ceremony at each school.