Private Brand Predictions for 2014

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 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.