No fish tale
WHEN COSTCO SET OUT to develop a Kirkland Signature fish oil
supplement in the mid-’90s, it was apparent that the biggest challenge to overcome was the industry itself.
“The supplement industry wasn’t regulated at all. There was no
guarantee that what was on the label of many supplements was what
was inside,” says Teresa Thompson, buyer for Kirkland Signature
health supplements. “We needed to establish a standard of quality
that members could rely on.”
Costco turned to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), the
official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and
over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements. In doing so,
Costco became the first retailer to participate in the USP’s voluntary
“USP verification means the ingredients are consistent in quality
from batch to batch, that they meet claims for strength, purity and
quality—basically that what’s on the label is in fact in the bottle,”
Making that extra effort has resulted in high praise for Kirkland
Signature Fish Oil Concentrate from consumer-research magazines
since its introduction in 1994. Kirkland Signature fish oil consistently
ranks in the top three (and is frequently ranked number one) in
terms of quality and value in the industry.
Says Teresa, “Our Kirkland Signature Fish Oil, and the newer
enteric-coated Kirkland Signature Fish Oil, are perfect examples
of Costco going the extra mile to make sure there is no
question about just how good these products are.”
—T. Foster Jones
To learn more about some of the popular Kirkland
Signature products, see the June Online Edition.
Visit costco.com and click on “Costco magazine.”
Any item carrying the Kirkland Signature brand must offer a significant value over the competition. What about the chicken Caesar
wrap? Each Kirkland Signature wrap has 5 ounces of chicken, for a
total protein count of 31 percent. A similar wrap at a national fast-food chain has less than 2 ounces of chicken. “On a per-pound basis,
the Kirkland Signature wrap is a tremendous value,” Shawn says.
Still on a roll
IT’S NOT THE MOST GLAMOROUS product, but Kirkland
Signature Bath Tissue—Costco’s most popular item—
offers a perfect example of what Costco’s private-label
program is all about.
Costco decided to create Kirkland Signature Bath
Tissue because, simply put, the company believed it could
make a high-quality tissue for less than national brands.
“We can control the quality, and the value,” says Costco
buyer Deb Belcourt.
As is the case with many Kirkland Signature products,
Costco still offers a national bath-tissue brand for members who prefer it. “As with detergent and other products,
members have a choice when it comes to bath tissue,”
For Costco, an important part of the Kirkland
Signature program is that it enables the company to
maintain control over quality and pricing in the face of
changes in the market. In the case of bath tissue, for
example, some national brands have shortened their rolls
to save money.
“We continue to try to maintain sheet counts to go
along with our standard of quality,” Deb says.
And in terms of quality, Costco has complete control
over the product’s standards. “Our tissue goes through
extensive testing every month,” Deb says. “We test for
strength, softness and appearance. We conduct six different tests on strength alone.”
To see how successful Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue
has been in the past 12 years, just look at the sales figures. The product is on pace to sell more than 20 million
packages in the 2006 fiscal year. That’s 720 million rolls
and more than 20 million miles of tissue.
What’s most important, Deb notes, is that Kirkland
Signature Bath Tissue represents a tremendous value for
“This product is a foundation of what Kirkland
Signature represents,” says Deb. “There’s no Kirkland
Signature product that we sell more of, or one that
reaches more people.”—Mark E. Stroder
And, as with all Kirkland Signature deli products, only the
freshest ingredients go into this wrap.—Tim Talevich