May 13, 2014

Neatfreak!: Are You A Supplier Or A Brand?

Companies have a choice: be a supplier or build a brand.

Growing a brand is a choice. It’s a choice to challenge the status quo. It’s a choice to create unique and identifiable products. It’s a choice to stand out, and build a name for your company.

In 2008 Neatfreak made these choices. Neatfreak is now the category leader in home organization and storage. They design and manufacture storage products for closets, garments, shoes and laundry. And you can buy their solutions from major retailers like Walmart, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

But prior to 2008 Neatfreak was a supplier. The company was founded in 1984 as Varimpo, a private label manufacturer of plastic hangers and other storage products. The company was a successful manufacturer, but to get to the next level they decided to become a brand.

Not just another supplier

John Collins, Partner and Managing Director of the Neatfreak Group explains, “The home organization and storage category is a $7.6 billion a year industry. 85% of the industry is serviced by private label manufacturers, and 15% is driven by six competitors with brands.”

“We were playing the private label game, but we asked ourselves how do we create a compelling opportunity for A, the consumer, and B, our retail partners?”

Neatfreak was born out of a desire to create more value. A supplier is just that, a supplier. But a brand has more freedom to innovate and design products that delight consumers, while creating programs that move products off the store shelves, which delights retailers.

Focus on the consumer

Neatfreak’s products are popular, because they are functional and fashionable.

John Collins says, “Our purpose is to help keep the consumer organized, and control the chaos in her life. We bring harmony to everyday life, and we do that through imaginative products.”

Design is at the heart of fulfilling their purpose. The private label companies are effective at manufacturing, but Neatfreak stays a step ahead with their commitment to design. “We design our products, which is what separates our company from the chaff, in Lyon, France,” says John.

That combination of purpose and design is very powerful, because Neatfreak is able to define the standards for their category. And that clearly differentiates them from the masses of private label manufacturers.

A name people remember

Innovative, well designed products are the foundation of Neatfreak’s brand, but they also have a brand identity that sticks.

The “Neatfreak” name is memorable, and it sums up the consumer experience. John says, “The name resonates so well it’s unbelievable. The name is really memorable, and it conjures up interesting feelings for retailers and consumers.”

The brand name is then enhanced with packaging that pops. “53% of the decisions in this category are decided on packaging. We spent a lot of time and money on repositioning Neatfreak on store shelves, because once a customer experiences a Neatfreak product the repurchase rate is extremely high,” says John.

Neatfreak’s name sticks, and customers seek them out again and again.

Growing a brand is a choice

It all starts with a choice. In hindsight the decision for Neatfreak to build a brand seems obvious, but in 2008 it was a challenging and strategic decision.

The choice is for your company to make. Do you want to be a supplier, or do you want to be a brand? Both options are viable, which do you choose?

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