Duane Reade is a uniquely New York retailer. With almost 250 stores across New York city and state, this drugstore chain has evolved as consumers have. No longer just a pharmacy, Duane Reade has methodically repositioned itself as a store with a pharmacy.

By adjusting its product assortments to meet the lifestyle needs of New Yorkers and repackaging its successful private label, Duane Reade has captured that “New York state of mind” perfectly. After all, the first drugstore opened between Duane and Reade streets in Manhattan more than 50 years ago. It’s a New York institution.

Accordingly, when Duane Reade decided to revamp its private label packaging, New York-themed imagery was decided upon in black on a stark white background with bright colored on the right-hand edge of the packaging to segment varieties. The in-your-face artwork uses UPC bar codes and numbers to striking effect. This is pure genius! (Take a look!)

While the huge UPCs can’t be scanned, New York landmarks presented in this artistic manner are unique. It’s very cool to see the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building creatively depicted using bar codes. Package design consultancy CBX refers to this ownable creative simply as “skyline.” Apt description.

Since this packaging has been in place since October 2009, Duane Reade private label products have seen much greater brand awareness and stronger sales. Its “skyline” bottled water is now the best seller in the entire category, for example.

There’s nothing like having a New York based retailer exude New York attitude, is there? This ought to get everybody’s creative juices flowing. Who said private label packaging has to be boring?


What do you think of Duane Reade’s store brand packaging?

Have you seen a specific store brand packaging that not only appeals to you, but supports the overall retail brand in a distinctive, unique manner?

What can other retailers do to spruce up their store brands?

Marketers, designers and consumers: please weigh in with your comments!

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni