retail watch | May 10, 2021 |
Bed Bath & Beyond debuts affordable private-label line

While Bed Bath & Beyond has always been identified by shoppers as a value retailer with good prices, it has never had its own cross-category brand at an opening price point, similar to what many of its competitors use to drive their basics business. That changes today with the retailer’s introduction of Simply Essential, a 1,200-SKU private-label program that cuts across all of its key merchandise classifications and gives the company a cohesive branding story to promote to its customers.

Simply Essential’s debut in stores and online this week comes as part of a massive remerchandising of the venerable big-box retailer, which had fallen on hard times but is in the midst of reinvention. Earlier this year, Bed Bath & Beyond introduced the first two of what it calls “owned brands,” labels developed and sourced internally and exclusive to the company: Nestwell, a bed and bath collection with a natural, feel-good positioning, and Haven, a Zen-inspired bath program. These will be joined by five more by the end of the retailer’s fiscal year in early 2022; by the time the entire program is fully up to speed in 2024, the company expects the owned brands to account for one-third of its overall sales, or about $3 billion a year.

Simply Essential represents the most extensive of any of the retailer’s planned rollouts, Joe Hartsig, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, tells Business of Home. “Customers are looking for value-priced, hardworking, everyday items without sacrificing design or performance,” he says, noting the focus on its largest product categories: bed, bath, kitchen and dining, and storage and organization.

As much as the company has historically been focused on value, “we didn’t have enough at opening price points,” says Hartsig. While the focus had previously been on specialty retail competitors at better and best price points, “we need to compete against mass and online, and that had been the gap in our pricing architecture.”

Left: Soft goods from the Simply Essential collection Courtesy of Bed, Bath & Beyond | Right: Simply Essential cookware Courtesy of Bed, Bath & Beyond

Simply Essential stretches from $1 serving spoons to $5 pillows and $7 frying pans. Some items are bundled, like a 12-piece cooking set for $35, ideal for the back-to-campus business that is a key demographic for the retailer. Hartsig says other consumers, like those with their first living arrangements and those on tight budgets, will be targeted as well. Most items are under $50 and all come in under $200. And in a nod to a mainstay of the Bed Bath & Beyond shopper, all of the items in the line can be purchased using the retailer’s ubiquitous coupons, giving them even more value.

The new program is debuting in stores with a special display near entrances, and is then sold in individual departments, or “rooms,” as the retailer now refers to them. The line also has its own landing page on the company’s e-commerce site.

“With Simply Essential, ‘home starts here’ with the simplicity of great design, marrying form and function at everyday low prices that are incredibly wallet-friendly,” says Hartsig. “We’re proud to introduce Simply Essential to inspire our customers to ‘home, happier,’ while also delivering on our commitment to bring them exceptional value for a home’s most necessary items.”

Homepage photo: Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

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Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.

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