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What’s the difference between white label and private label coffee?

Private label and white label are both terms that can overlap, given that they tend to be products branded by a reseller and sold to the general public. However, they are not the same and there are distinct differences. 

What is white label?

Derived from the music industry, ‘white label’, was a term used for records that were yet to be released to the general public. Instead, radio stations and DJs would be sent promotional copies with white labels on, to prevent anyone knowing the source of the new music.

When you take this concept and apply it to today’s businesses, they follow the same principle as the record labels by hiding the source but delivering their product on mass.

What is white label coffee?

A white label coffee is coffee which is produced by a coffee supplier as a generic product to be distributed to a large number of retailers. Retailers can then sell this product under their own brand. 

The end consumer sees this solely as the retailer’s product, as it will bear no connection to the original coffee supplier.

What is Private Label Coffee? 

A private label coffee is again produced by the coffee supplier but exclusively for a specific seller.

What are the differences between white label and private label coffee?

The key element to define between white label coffee and private label coffee is that white label coffee products can not be altered. Whilst the branding, packaging and marketing can be reimagined, the product itself must stay the same. So, imagine a coffee supplier creating a single origin Colombian blend. This product can be sold into retailers under completely different identities, but it will remain the exact same blend behind the packaging.  

In comparison, private label products can be more bespoke. For instance, a company may approach a coffee supplier to create a unique blend they believe their customers would enjoy. They could request certain flavour profiles, roasting methods and so on, until they are satisfied. From here, this product will be sold under a new identity and brand, just like a white label coffee product, the only difference being exclusivity. 

Another difference between the two, which can often cause confusion, is whether they are a product or service. Private label identifies better with tangible goods like coffee. Whereas white labelling is more associated with technologies or software. Take something like YouTube, for example. This is a platform which can be used by anyone, creating a channel, under the flagship and infrastructure of YouTube.  

Although most white label products will not promote the supplier or source, you will find it in the small print. Sometimes, phrases such as ‘brought to you by…’ will be used to protect the client from any liability. In contrast, private label products carry all the responsibility.

Advantages of White Label coffee

  • White labelling a product can be seen as a quicker and less frustrating route to creating your own brand. A lot of the heavy lifting is carried out by the coffee supplier, leaving you to generate sales through smart advertising and marketing. 
  • A white label coffee doesn’t mean lesser quality either. In terms of taste, it can rank alongside some of the bigger brands.
  • As a retailer, white label coffee can see good margins, compared to bigger, more nationally recognised brands. 

Disadvantages of White Label coffee

  • White label products can be overlooked and seen as inferior. Despite retailers having full control of branding, they are often left simple and uninspiring, to perhaps reflect the lower cost.

Advantages of Private Label coffee

  • Private label coffee can be a great alternative to big name brand coffees, especially in an ever evolving market with more educated consumers. 
  • The price point of private label coffee is always advantageous. 
  • The exclusivity private label coffee is another great advantage. You can borrow the expertise of the coffee supplier and target specific audiences with a great product.

Disadvantages of Private Label coffee

  • Private label coffee comes with higher risk. The more bespoke they are and the more they’re altered, it could mislead or confuse your customers, leaving you with a product you can’t sell. 

Lincoln & York – Your Coffee Partner

At Lincoln & York, we work hard to give all of our customers a great coffee experience. Be it bespoke blendstraining or courses or making the most of our many other areas of expertise, we aim to become your coffee partner for life!

To understand more about the benefits of private label coffee, read our blog or get in touch and speak to an expert.

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