18 March 2005

Not so $mart: Coles Myer's name game.


Not much is really new at Coles Myer. This Smart Buy brand has already been operating in south-western USA food stores for some time.

When Australia's largest retailer and biggest company, Coles Myer, announces to the sharemarket (www.colesmyer.com.au) that it intends renaming and relaunching its homebrands for its Coles supermarkets, you would expect that this would be handled with some level of sophistication and perhaps even evidence of consumer research. Modelling itself on the success of Britain's Tesco and Sainsbury's own homebrands, you'd also think there would have been some real thinking and research in the naming of the new lines. Even more importantly, Coles expects that the renamed homebrands lines will generate 30% of all sales by 2007. Worth billions.

So here are the new names - a budget label 'Coles $mart buy', a mid-priced line 'You'll love Coles' and a premium brand, 'George J Coles', named after the company's founder. Now we love 'George J Coles', but the rest?? Is 'Farmland' a better or worse name? A three tiered home brand line is a sensible policy, but it's also got to be seen as something serious, something that is going to feel like an attractive proposition to customers. Not merely a slogan.

Worse still is John Fletcher's idea for a name for a new liquor category killer to take on Woolworth's hugely successful Dan Murphy brand superstore. '1st Choice'. What does that mean? Like Megamart, the electric superstore, it means nothing and consequently has no way of building an identity, let alone, a brand.

Let's hope the result for Coles Myer won't be the same as when they dumped all the equity associated with the Grace Bros name in NSW and replaced it with the name Myer; a move that has still not managed to arrest falling sales and a flagging brand.

The question is, on what basis does Coles Myer makes these kinds of decisions?


grundnorm said...

"You'll love Coles" is a truly awful name - but only marginally worse than "Coles $mart Buy". The inclusion of 'Coles', and the Coles logo, in each of the three names is odd. There will presumably be brand-differentiation between the three 'levels' of house brand in other ways - standard of packaging etc. But the Woolworths approach, (best quality - Woolworths, less quality - Home Brand) seems a much easier and more instantly recognisable way of making the distinction. Coles incorporated 'Coles' into its Farmland, Persona, Reliance and Savings hosue brands recently - I just question the idea behind this uniformity in name, when the brands are not supposed to be uniform.

stephen byrne said...

We think it was done in-house or by their agency. We’ve had some high level exposure to Coles Myer at a corporate level. Last year John Fletcher flatly rejected a brand strategy for the corporate brand, so it’s no wonder that Coles Myer doesn’t know what it is doing or even how to name their own brands.