Couple shopping in a supermarket

Private label product assortment is an important driver of shopper satisfaction. When it comes to selection, we see more evidence of shoppers’ changing desires. One of the key findings from our Food Shopping in America 2017 report is that private label is increasingly what consumers are looking for. With many store brand organic and natural offerings available today, private label also overlaps with healthy products. Having a good selection of quality private label products can often make the difference in deciding which retailer to shop.

How consumers shop is a reflection of their health and wellness values. According to The Hartman Group’s Health & Wellness 2019 report, however, due to barriers of time, money, and the everyday demands of living, consumers usually find themselves having to make trade-offs in their shopping. They use heuristic cues as shorthand for getting the healthiest products within the limitations of their lifestyle and resources.

With this as a backdrop, we have to ask if Target’s new private label product offering, Good & Gather, is tapping into consumers’ desires or playing catch-up with the competition.

According to Target’s press announcement, Good & Gather will be Target’s “largest owned brand launch.” With the introduction of Good & Gather, consumers can say goodbye to Target’s other private label brands, Archer Farms and Simply Balanced, and some Market Pantry products. Target states they are doing this to make “it easy for guests to discover the joy of food.”

We know from our Health + Wellness 2019 research that Target lags behind many of its competitors, notably Walmart and, as a destination store for wellness shoppers. According to our report, more than three-fourth (76%) of consumers regularly shop Walmart and 73% of consumers say they regularly shop for health and wellness food and beverages compared to 59% of consumers who say they regularly shop Target.

Quality private labels from trusted retailers have emerged as an appealing value equation for many wellness shoppers. Almost half of consumers (48%) use private label health and wellness brands (a 10 percentage point increase from 2013). These brands now offer many of the quality cues of name brands. With more options to choose from, consumers perceive quality tiers within private brands and categories just as they do for name brands.

• Trader Joe’s has the quality cues — organic, simple ingredients — that many seek, and they carry a wide range of specialty health and wellness products and ingredients.

• Kroger’s Simple Truth and Whole Foods Market’s 365 also get consumers’ credit for having a wide range of affordable, high-quality health and wellness products.

The top barrier to consumers in shopping for health and wellness products is price. Trusted private label health and wellness products are a growing solution to this barrier, as is online shopping. Amazon has emerged as a contender, performing extremely well on value, selection, and discovery.

Target certainly has its work cut out.

According to findings in our Health + Wellness 2019 report, Target did not place in the top 10 retailer performance leaders in any of five categories:

• Best overall selection of healthy items (Whole Foods Market #1)

• Best prices/value on healthy items (Costco #1)

• Best place to learn about health and wellness (CVS #1)

• Best place to find new healthy items (Whole Foods Market #1)

• Best at helping me avoid unhealthy items (Whole Foods Market #1)

With consumers increasingly open to private label brands at grocery stores — consider Kroger’s Simple Truth and how Trader Joe’s products are consistently cited as premium private label by consumers — this seems like a logical step for Target as part of a bid to boost its food business. Yet analysts and consumers alike have often criticized Target’s fresh food offerings as lackluster or an afterthought. If Target can deliver on contemporary quality and competitive pricing while aligning Good & Gather with their currently more successful smaller footprint locations, this could be a game changer for Target as a more significant player in the grocery sector.

Maintaining a trusted, high-quality private label is likely essential to competing in today’s health and wellness market. These products can make a retailer a health and wellness destination. This will become even more important for Target as Amazon emerges as a contender in the health and wellness marketplace, because it currently possesses fewer established private label options.