When six professional tasters blind-tasted a range of Champagnes for the December 2006 Which? Magazine, no-one would have predicted the effect the results would have on sales of one in particular.
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Premier Cru 2000 beat big-name brands - including best-seller Moët & Chandon - to the top of the list and customers couldn't get to the wine aisle quickly enough.
Sales rocketed by 3,000 per cent and demand was so great that by Christmas Sainsbury's had sold half its stock for the year ahead."
"The fifth age of private label was a move beyond parity and replication toward superiority. Following the successful example of Canadian supermarket Loblaws, Tesco launched a line of super-premium private-label products under the Finest sub-brand. They often retailed for more than the manufacturer equivalents and were of higher quality.
The sixth age has seen a shift away from basic store brands toward a brand architecture of private labels. The big supermarkets have moved from a simple house structure to use private-label sub-brands to offer distinct organic, budget, healthy and premium lines - a multifaceted offering that surrounds manufacturer brands on all sides.
Last week saw early evidence of the next step for private labels: category leadership. Asda has launched tea bags made from nylon mesh under its premium Extra Special label. These tea bags cost about four times the price of traditional paper ones. What's important here is that there was nothing like it being sold in Asda by a big-name brand. Until now, for all their advancement, private labels have been second movers: undercutting and improving on big-brand offerings, but always following. Now, however, supermarkets are using store data, category knowledge and strong supplier relationships to begin to lead the market.
The real golden era of private labels is only just beginning and manufacturers are glimpsing the true challenge that awaits them. Brand managers will have to compete against private labels that are cheaper, more premium, more profitable, better merchandised, more trusted and easier to market - and face the prospect of trying to enter categories created, and now led, by private labels."