Featured image for Asda 'Just Essentials' Packaging Accused Of Being 'Poverty Markers'

Asda 'Just Essentials' Packaging Accused Of Being 'Poverty Markers'

by Rudy Sanchez on 08/18/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Retailers take different approaches to house brands, aka private labels or own labels in the UK. Many firms don’t put much effort into their house brand’s identity beyond slapping the corporate logo on the packaging. These products typically target budget-conscious shoppers looking to stretch their dollar further. 

Earlier this year, UK supermarket chain Asda recently updated its budget house brand, relaunching as Just Essentials with a new, bright visual brand identity. Asda’s Just Essentials line consists of 300 items across all major product categories, including meat, poultry, seafood, frozen foods, and pantry staples. 

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But the eye-catching bright yellow and white packaging of the Just Essentials range designed by Our Creative has received criticism that it is poverty-shaming shoppers. UK news outlet The Mirror reports that some shoppers viewed the packaging as “poverty markers,” signaling to other patrons that the person pushing the cart full of Just Essentials items is poor. Of course, in the design brief from Asda, they wanted to move away from the packaging's previous white background as the brand believed that hue was perceived as being the “budget item.”

Editorial photograph

In response to the criticism of the new design, Our Creative account director, Sara Pollard, noted to Dieline that "many of us are tightening our belts. We wanted to make it easy for people to find everyday essential products and make their money go further. This is about a mindset change. Nobody should be shaming anybody due to their choice of product in store."

The Mirror says an Asda spokesperson told them that customers loved the line, adding, “we don’t understand why anyone would feel embarrassed for saving money.”

Private labels don’t have to signal poverty. Kirkland Signature, Costco’s house brand, is popular with the warehouse club’s members and is known to be white-labeled products from national brands such as Duracell, Starbucks, and Huggies.

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Editorial photograph

Target has a whole portfolio of private label brands developed with little to no direct connection to the retailer’s primary brand (with great design to boot). Stocked alongside major CPG brands are Target brands such as Market Pantry, Good & Gather, Smartly, Everspring, More than Magic, Kindfull, Mondo Llama, and Wondershop, to name a few. These house brands aren’t just value-forward alternatives to national brands; Target aims its private label towards specific consumers or product categories, sometimes having multiple private label alternatives in the same category, such as Eversping and Smartly.

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While politicians and pundits argue over whether we’re in a recession or not, many consumers are seeking economic reprieve by shopping for private label products. It might be easy to give little thought to the shelf presence of the house brand. Still, there’s an opportunity for grocers and retailers to capture the sale through attractive packaging, regardless of the consumer’s grocery budget.


Images courtesy of Our Creative.

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