Private Brand Predictions for 2014

Christopher Durham Jan 9, 2014 3

Crystal BAllAs we put 2013 behind us and begin to look forward to an exciting 2014, I want to get out my crystal ball and make predictions about Private Brand in the upcoming year. Some will come true and some should come true — only time will tell which is which.

A Race to the Bottom
Numerous retailers who are intrigued or terrified by Walmart’s test of the neo-generic private label Price First will chase them to the bottom and create poorly designed, embarrassing labels instead of strategic consumer focused brands.

Portfolio Reinvention
In 2014 many of the now aging Private Brand portfolios are showing their age. They last evolved five to ten years ago and reflect a tactical tiering that created virtually identical labels and strategy. Premium, NBE and Value tiering has been tactically efficient and strategically shallow — there is no differentiation in sameness. 2014 will be the year retailers and their brand portfolios embrace consumer focused positionings and unique business goals. Retailers will begin to understand their numerous brands can each build relationships with a variety of unique and profitable target customers.

Natural & Organic Redefined
With the launch of Simply Balanced from Target and Simple Truth from Kroger, the bar has been raised for natural and organic brands. In 2014 they will continue to evolve from strictly attribute focused tactical labels to credible lifestyle/solution focused brands. Natural and Organic brands including O Organic from Safeway, Nature’s Place from Delhaize (Food Lion, Hannaford), Nature’s Promise from Ahold (Stop &Shop, Giant), and Wild Harvest from Supervalu are showing signs of age and are badly in need of redesign and potential repositioning. Expect to see a number of these evolve in 2014.

Archer Farms Remodeled
Since the redesign of Market Pantry in 2012 and the launch of Simply Balanced in 2013, Archer Farms now has the oldest brand design in the Target grocery Private Brand portfolio. Although it is holding up very well, 2014 could well bring a redesign.

The Re-Appearance of Wild Oats
2014 will certainly see the reappearance of Wild Oats as a product brand. If it appears as an exclusive at Walmart it will dramatically impact natural and organic market share.

Walmart Gains Premium Confidence
The reemergence of Sam’s Choice and the introduction of Pure Balance dog food points towards a growing confidence from the retailer in premium Private Brands and products. If they add Wild Oats in Natural and Organic, it will further signal this confidence. However, premium at Walmart is a reflection of the Walmart customer and can more accurately be described as simply “Better” national brand equivalent products.

What are your predictions?


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Christopher Durham

Vice President of Retail Brands at Theory House

Christopher Durham is the founder of My Private Brand and the VP of retail brands at Theory House, the branding and retail marketing agency. He is a consultant, strategist and retailer with close to 20 years of real-world retail and corporate experience creating, launching and building billion dollar Private Brands.

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  1. Rob Wright Jan 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    I buy many different private label brands and I have seen the rapid growth of them the last few years. What I want to know is who is actually making the products? Certainly all these retailers are not producing dog food, cereal, soap, medicine, etc. I looked at the private label manufacturers association, but I can not find a list of the companies that are members of the association. It must certainly be the case that some private labels are actually exactly the same with different names on them. CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid might all have their own label of soap, but all 3 might be coming from the same manufacturing plant owned by someone else. That’s what I would like to know. Who is making the stuff? what are those companies, and are they all small private companies specializing in just a few lines or are some public companies? If anyone can answer this, let me know where I can find information about the companies making the products, I’d really appreciate it.

    • Christopher Durham Jan 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      The list of manufacturers that produce products for retail owned brands is well into the thousands in the US and significantly larger than that globally – in the US the manufacturers range from large corporations like Conagra and Treehouse to small regional players like Kansas City Sausage – Retailers specify the quality and recipe and then source it appropriately. This is also true of many “national” brands across virtually every category ranging from Apple computers who manufacturers nothing to quaker, kraft and many others.

  2. Pat Davy Jan 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I see two of the major Store Brand Marketing companies merging. Won’t name any names even-though I am retired. With the merger of so many grocery wholesalers and chains , many of who are dropping Store Brand Marketing companies, there is just so much business !

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