Interview with Francisco Soares dos Santos
Thirty years ago, when the Pingo Doce private brand was launched, you already held a leadership position in the company. What kind of discussions did you have on whether to launch a private brand or not? Was there any internal resistance to overcome?
There was no resistance 30 years ago to launching a wide range of Pingo Doce private brand products. We were all in agreement: we would launch a Pingo Doce brand and not a white label brand, as the competition had done. At the time, our dream was to “copy” the St Michael brand, which was the private brand of Marks & Spencer in the UK. As the whole team had professional experience in multinationals in the sector, there was consensus that it was fundamental for us to have a private brand. Moreover, we knew we wanted the quality to be as good as or better than the market leader in the segment concerned at the time.
“The most incredible legacy I see is the love with which employees speak of our private brand.”INTERVIEW WITH FRANCISCO SOARES DOS SANTOS
CEO OF JMRS
What advantages and disadvantages did you identify for investing in a private brand, looking at the example of the competition?
We only saw advantages in a launch. Our goal was to enable customers to have products in their homes of the same quality as those of the market leader, but 10 % to 20 % cheaper. What took longer was convincing the industry to produce our private brand with our quality standards.
How did Pingo Doce manage to transform a concept that customers disparagingly identified as a “white label range” into one of the Company’s primary sources of growth?
Through a lot of tasting campaigns in the stores, plus the inclusion of the products in the Pingo Doce weekly recipes, which were already published at the time.
How would you characterise the role the private brand played in the growth of Pingo Doce? And how did it go about gaining customer loyalty?
The fact that we stuck to the principle that the quality of our private brand products had to be as good as or better than the market leader’s products meant that we could gain customer loyalty. Also, the fact that we were pioneers in innovation in specific segments, which is particularly true in the food area. In the personal hygiene or washing powder segments, for example, the struggle was somewhat more problematic.
When you go into a Pingo Doce store today, 30 years later, do you still find any legacy of the first private brand products?
The most incredible legacy I see is the love with which employees speak of our private brand. It took a long time to convince them that the Pingo Doce brand would be in all Portuguese homes and that it wasn’t just another “white label brand”. We couldn’t betray the hopes of our customers.
What are your three favourite private brand products?
Fleur de sel butter, truffle mayonnaise and Angus beef. But there are many others.