With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there is a lucrative opportunity for food retailers to get one up on the competition with own-label products. Own label represents a growing part of retailer profits. A large part of this comes from seasonal promotions, so they need to form part of a coherent brand strategy offering products customers want and need.

With those needs and wants becoming ever more sophisticated, it is no surprise that own-label offerings are too. Take Waitrose’s romantic meals for two, designed to appeal to couples who used to go to restaurants but these days prefer to save the pennies and opt for a premium ready meal at home. The retailer has also created bespoke Colour Your Own Valentine Gingerbread Boys/Girls this year.

But as Tesco New York Soup Co products have shown, simply creating a new brand does not guarantee success: retailers also need to know exactly what will best resonate with consumers and prioritise those ranges with the best chances of success.

Monitoring customer opinion before launch allows retailers to gauge opinion before creating a product, whiles social media can provide insight into what products are engaging most with customers and inform the overall brand strategy.

Once they have this insight, the next challenge for retailers is seamless collaboration with suppliers: the more smoothly retailers can work with their partners, the faster they can get products on shelf. As channels become increasingly merged, the ability to react to consumer tastes on a near real-time basis when bringing new brands to market will be crucial: something as simple as making a dessert into a heart shape can have a huge effect, if done at the right time.

Managing brands effectively and driving new, seasonal products to market quickly allows retailers to make the most of customer time spent in-store by engaging them with innovative, attractive products.

As with so much in retail, it all comes down to knowing your customers. By paying close attention to what resonates with the public, retailers can pave the way for a long and happy relationship this Valentine’s Day.

Nick Martin is SVP at Trace One