As a self-proclaimed lifelong lover of office supplies, I remember a time when Avery Dennison was synonymous with labels. The company was the standard that all other brands adhered to. When you wanted to print a label, the easiest one was to choose Avery Dennison’s products because of the hundreds of templates right in Microsoft Word. It was that easy!! In fact, any other private label was likely made by Avery and referred back to the company’s templates as well. Avery’s Office and Consumer Product division had a sharp focus on what types of products it was going to offer and who its customers were.
Well, to the everyday shopper, not much has changed. The office supply stores are still stocked full of Avery Dennison products and the templates are still readily available. However, if you take a closer look at the market an abundance of 3M label products are also available and flooding the aisles with yellow and black packaging. The label shelf may actually be in a state of transformation that we have never seen before!
During the first week of 2012, Avery Dennison announced that it had signed a definitive agreement with 3M to sell its Office and Consumer Products segment for $550 million in cash. Avery Dennison had suffered from quarter after quarter of reduced profits leading up to the purchase. And while the consolidation makes sense economically, the impact that 3M had on Avery’s once almost monopoly on the consumer label market is incredible. 3M entered the label market in August 2009 arriving at OfficeMax and Office Depot. With a strong brand name from its Post-it products and a reputation in the market for various sticky products, labels were almost a natural progression.
After testing its products at various retailers through the end of 2009 and first half of 2010, 3M struck a deal with Office Depot and replaced almost every single Avery product in the store with its own line. 3M’s retail availability shot up from 22 products in June 2010 to 95 in July 2010. While Office Depot remained the brand’s key retail partner, Avery has seen a product decline of almost 10 percent since June 2010 throughout the retail channel. The exposure that 3M achieved by commanding the label shelf at the national office supply chain was a changing point for the new player.
While its retail expansion was key, 3M further expanded its reach into online merchants. The company has a much more significant presence online at resellers such as CompUSA.com, Walmart.com, OfficeDepot.com, OfficeMax.com, and SamsClub.com. 3M utilized online resellers for their considerably less costly overhead and wider reach. The company found a place to represent itself to the masses in the retail channel, gaining exposure for its brand and product line, but has pushed its products harder in the online realm where more people may purchase this type of product and it could reach more consumers.
At one time dominating the market, Avery is now exiting the consumer label industry. It is yet to be seen what the new assortments will be and how 3M integrates Avery’s expansive lineup into its own. All around us well-known companies are losing market share, shutting down, or consolidating. After the initial shock, consolidation is generally a positive thing for business. It displays the resiliency of companies and the desire to prevail. Avery joined some of its peers in the paper industry to consolidate their offerings while focusing on other divisions of their companies.
Despite the enormous selection of products that Avery had, it just was not enough. 3M came into the market with refreshed branding and creative product lines. Avery was unable to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing market place. Consumers were demanding more than address and shipping labels. They wanted design and innovation.
Everyday surprising occurrences take place in the market and we keep learning lessons about what to do and what not to do. At the end of the day no matter what your brand or how much market penetration you have, it is always important to remember why you are doing what you are doing and have the flexibility to adapt to changes.