Being an old-school guy, I’m not at all sensitive to brand pressure. My clothes are basically the grown up versions of whatever I wore when I was 12: cotton everywhere, button down oxford shirts (long-sleeved only), khakis or light grey slacks, penny loafers and a blue blazer.
Once guys like me find something we like, we wear it, eat it, drink it, drive it or use it in the bathroom until we accidentally find something better.
A few years ago, I accidentally found Kirkland brand products at Costco and Equate brands at WalMart. We used to call them store-brands but Kirkland and Equate are something different. With a few exceptions (e.g. 8 O’Clock Coffee at A&P), store brands were just not as good as national brands. Kirkland and Equate are better than a lot of national brands, and a lot cheaper.
Most Equate products are for the bathroom: mouthwash, contact lens stuff, shave cream and so on. Kirkland brands are all over the place: coffee, bottled water, lox and God knows what else. Reasonable quality at a low price.
Both companies use their brands to stalk the big brands. For instance, Kirkland’s coffee is right beside Folger’s on the shelves and Equate’s mouthwash is beside Scope. The price contrast is immediate.
Where store brands were once created for the price-conscious shopper, Kirkland and Equate appeal to the quality-conscious as well, assuming they’re not sensitive to brand pressure.
We all have friends who care about the brands they use (or, at least, are seen using) because of brand image. They’ll spend more on their brands even if there’s no logical reason to fork over the extra $$.
House brands are stalking in a whole new area these days. They double as magnets. The only place I can buy Kirkland products is at Costco, so I go to Costco, I wouldn’t bother otherwise, and I buy a lot of other stuff when I’m there. Ditto Equate and WalMart.
Both companies, as you already knew, are run by very smart people.
P.S. I tried a Kirkland wine last week. Nobody’s perfect.