Generic, No-Name Labels – Do Your BRANDS Matter?

The mainstream media loves a easy, obvious story so it should come as no surprise that the majority of stories about Private Brand have been over generalizations of a two cliched themes: “the economy did it” & “compare and save.”  The latest comes from the venerable but tired and graying magazine Time in a story titled “Brand Names Just Don’t Mean as Much Anymore” – even the title misses the point. The story goes on to call retailer owned brands every passive aggressive derogatory phrase the writer could think of including: “generic store-brand counterparts,” “no-name,” and “private-label goods.”

No matter if we’re talking about cereal, cough syrup or batteries, products featuring nationally recognized name brands tend to cost more than their generic store-brand counterparts. But the assumption that higher price means higher quality is fading.

The Great Recession brought with it new opportunities for supermarkets and drugstores to reach out to consumers who grew increasingly eager to save on everyday purchases. One of the simplest strategies to trim bills has been to switch to cheaper brands — or rather, generic “no-name” brands sold only at specific chains.

The story reinforces the notion that retailers do not have the right to own and manage brands. I have said it before and I will say it again “National Brands” or manufacturer brands do not have the sole right to build brands. There is nothing about any multinational conglomerate that bestows upon it a branding “moral superiority.

So let’s return to the title “Brand Names Just Don’t Mean as Much Anymore” and clarify the point – Brands do in fact matter, however customers do not know  who owns Brands and they do not care.

Retailers not only have the right but the financial obligation to build Brands.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.