Private Labeling : What It Is, & How to Incorporate It Into Your Business

 

I was having breakfast at a local restaurant the other day when I noticed on the table there was a bottle of hot sauce with the restaurant's name on it. I was impressed because I knew this was no chain - it is just a small independent restaurant who was taking advantage of private labeling. I was even more impressed when I recognized the company on the label and realized that we had actually printed these labels for one of our customers who specialize in private labeling.

What is Private Labeling?

First, let's be clear about what I mean by Private Labeling. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, private label products or services are typically those manufactured or provided by one company for offer under another company's brand. So this covers everything from Wal-Mart brand products to the small restaurant putting their label on someone else's hot sauce.

It is amazing the number of businesses now that are engaged in some form of private labeling. Restaurants, hotels, spas, hair salons, even car dealers are all putting their own brands on products such as hot sauce, lotions, shampoos, coffee, lip balm, bottled water and wine. Many corporations want to put their own logos on products that they give away to reinforce their brands. The corporate gift market is particularly busy around Christmas. There are also many small businesses that want to appear more professional by having their own brands of products to sell - coffee and bottled water are especially popular here.

Getting Started

So how do you get started in private labels? The easiest way is to just start selling to other local companies. If you sell coffee then start with the local cafés and donut shops - many companies are happy to support other local companies, particularly if they can get their own brand name on the products. Obviously, your existing customer base would also be a good place to start.

Once you have a few private label customers you can then start a formal "Private Label Program" giving prospects examples of what other companies have done. One important point to note is be sure to make it as easy as possible for your customers. You should offer to do all the work for them including the labeling, so they will just receive the finished product. You may end up having lower margins on your private label products, but you can make up for that with increased volume.

Private Label Resources

You don't have to do it alone in your private label venture; there are plenty of resources out there to help you. There are two main publications that you can read:

  • Private Label Magazine
  • Private Label Buyer

There is also a national organization - the Private Label Manufacturers Association that puts on a big trade show every year just for the private label industry. I would also expect your own industry trade association will be a useful resource for you, they may even have some information on private labeling.

A simple search request for "private label" on Google brings up over 10,000,000 pages. Add your industry to that search and you will have a wealth of information more specific to your needs. For instance, the search "private label coffee" brings up over 13,000 pages. You should do this to see what your competitors are doing in your industry, which actually could give you many ideas. While you are online you should also look for blogs and news articles within your industry - there is a lot being written about private labeling.

Here at Lightning Labels, we will be happy to help you with the label part of your private label program. We see dozens of designs every day, so we can help with the design of your labels as well as the printing. The big advantage for you, as a Lightning Labels customer, is that you can offer small quantities to your private label customers and then "gang run" many jobs together to get a better price for your labels. You can even add your own brand labels to these jobs, so your own per-unit label costs will be reduced.

Reaching the Next Level

If you continue to do all the production work yourself there is obviously a limit to how large your private label business can be. If you want to reach the next level you will need to hire the services of what is known as a Contract Packager. Basically, these are companies that take your product and packaging and put it all together for you and then ship it to your customers. They can even mix your ingredients for you to create your end product. You need to be at a reasonably high volume for this to be worthwhile, but the beauty of outsourcing your production work is that it scales very easily - and it leaves you time to focus more on bringing in business.

The Contract Packaging Association is the trade group for contract packagers and their web site has a wealth of information. You can read about the criteria you should use when choosing a contract packager. They can even help you find a contract packager in your area with the capabilities that you need.

Once you have a relationship with a contract packaging company then you can really begin to scale your business. All the large supermarkets and drug retailers are increasing the number of products that they sell under their own label. Store brand products now account for 25% of sales at US supermarkets and 40% of sales at Wal-Mart. Now, I realize it is going to be difficult to get your products in to Wal-Mart or any of the big national chains, but there are plenty of smaller regional supermarkets and drug store chains where you will have a better chance.

The Potential

Here at Lightning Labels, we have seen it many times. A customer will start out small ordering their own brand of product. Then they will start private labeling with a few of their key customers. The next thing you know they are sending us dozens of different labels for a large number of customers as they expand their private label business.

I know it may be just a dream for many of you to have your products as the store brand at a national chain, but if you don't start out down the private label road you may never know the potential for your product. If you are completely focused on selling your products under your own brand at wholesale or in a retail store you may be missing out on a huge growth opportunity. The private label trend shows no signs of slowing down - you could very well find that the sky is the limit.

Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.