End users love today’s private label cleaning products because they’re typically dependable and affordable. They don’t have the mystique of that broom backed by a 100-year-old brand, but they don’t cripple the bottom line, either. For the distributor, this is one of the reasons to go into private labeling.

“You look at a private consumer — people are always looking for value,” says Keith Schneringer, director of channel marketing and sustainability at Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego. “If you have a private brand that can offer value, they’ll purchase that.”

With customers chasing value in everything, jan/san distributors like Waxie seize the opportunity by private labeling the essentials: chemicals, paper products, liners, brooms and floor pads. That’s because there are not many building service contractors or facility cleaning managers that can operate without any of these items. So, as long as there are items that need to be bought and customers that want to prioritize cost ahead of a reliable brand name, there is a reason to supplement brand offerings with private labeled products.

“The way that we position our private label products at Brady is that we sell the brand first,” says Ryan Banks, senior vice president of sales, Brady Industries, Las Vegas. “But if we can’t get a fair return, we won’t devalue the brand. Then we’ll engage our private brand.”

The private labeling of cleaning products can be a bit nuanced. That’s because some distributors — not all — choose to offer different levels of private label product so they can fulfill the desires of even more end users.

For example, a distributor could have three different offerings of mops. The first would be the name brand mop that the customer can expect to work well and last awhile, but might cost more. The second offering would be a higher-end private label mop at a quality at least similar to the name brand product, but with a little less cost. The third mop is going to be the most basic level. It’s essentially a “you get what you pay for” product.

When offering both an economy line of private label cleaning products and a high-quality line of private label cleaning products, the distributor is going to want to only lend its name to the latter. That’s because a good distributor doesn’t want to be associated with something that feels inadequate. It’s also because a private label product can be a fantastic marketing tool.

“[Our customers] are always associating the product with the distributor,” says Daniel Josephs, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Spruce Industries, Rahway, New Jersey. “When they run out of toilet paper, they think of Spruce’s toilet paper, not the brand name that might be sold by another distributor.”

Oddly enough, WAXIE discovered just how one private label product could churn out more sales because of one person’s restroom experience at the Grammys.

“There was this producer in the music industry who lived in England and he would come over for the Grammys every year and would use the restroom there, and he just really loved Waxie’s urinal screen,” says Schneringer. “So he, you know, took down notes, went back to England, then called us on the phone and was like, ‘Hey, I’d like to get some of these urinal screens.’”

Waxie was tickled by the request, but informed the music producer that it would cost three times as much as the product itself to ship it to him over the Atlantic Ocean. He didn’t care, he just wanted less splash back and mess in the pubs and businesses of the remote village in which he lived.

“We would (at the man’s request) ship the urinal screens to his hotel when he came back for the annual Grammys,” says Schneringer.

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