Why Metro gave its private brands their own magazine

From Shopper Marketing Report: The grocer uses a new medium to educate shoppers about improvements to its house brands.


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Metro is adding a digital magazine all about its roster of private label brands to its arsenal as it battles with Sobeys and Loblaw for category supremacy.

With Empire CEO Michael Medline boasting that its private label penetration for Compliments was growing faster than the industry, and Loblaws’ President’s Choice and No Name brands having an established place in the hearts and pantries of Canadians, competitor Metro is hardly standing pat.

In the digital pages of “Invitation to Holiday,” Metro is highlighting its own assortment of private label offerings, including ones that are less known, such as an eco-friendly extension for Selection, health-focused products in its more premium Irresistibles brand, as well as Personnelle Bébé, the half-century-old baby line acquired through the acquisition of pharmacy player Jean Coutu in 2018.

The magazine features things that’d be typical of a home or lifestyle magazine during the holiday season, such as recipes, meal plans and suggestions for side dishes, drinks and entertaining, but also goes beyond food and beverage to include things like beauty tips. There are also cross-promotional links between the magazine and the Metro & Moi loyalty program.

“Private brands, for all retailers, are crucial,” according to Marie Horodecki Aymes, Metro’s director of design and packaging for its private brands. “It’s not only a way to speak about value, but to also differentiate and drive loyalty. Consumers trust them, so it’s definitely a priority for us.”

COVID forced the grocer to invent and reinvent a lot of things, she adds, conceding that it’s doubtful the publication would’ve come about absent of COVID. Now, however, she says the magazine will be a biannual fixture for the grocery banner, especially with 2021 being the 20th anniversary of Metro’s premium private label, Irresistibles.

“It’s easier to speak about products when you are in store, when you have demonstrations, when people can go in and taste it and when people have time to hang around,” Horodecki Aymes says. But with the retail current environment limiting a lot of direct channels, a magazine – and supplementary video content – is one of the most effective ways to put a resource that explains the value proposition of private label directly into a consumers hands through offering a bit of holiday utility.

The pandemic has also brought changes to the assortment within each of the brands. For example, there’s been a lot of work on Selection to have more cooking products. But in the magazine, Metro is focusing on more premium SKUs to coincide with the more indulgent holiday season – though the inclusion of its new Irrestibles Life Smart brand, Horodecki Aymes says, is a response to a more health-conscious consumer, even at this time of year.

To get the word out about the new magazine, Metro is relying on its own digital channels.

Boutique agency SJC handled the magazine and work for the Selection brand, but also works with several others on each private label brand in the portfolio, with Cabana Seguin working on Personnelle and Pigeon on Selection Eco, Irresistibles and Life Smart. According to Horodecki Aymes, having dedicated brand agencies allows Metro to better manage differentiation and territory of each brand.