Private Brand Sales Grew Nearly +10% in 2017


A new report by Nielsen from PLMA shows that private brand sales jumped by nearly 10% last year in mass merchandisers, club stores and dollar stores, while the mass channel came closer than ever before to overtaking traditional supermarkets as the place where consumers buy their groceries. Total sales in the mass channel reached $305 billion vs. $324 in supermarkets.

Sales of store brands in the mass channel increased sharply in both dollars and units while national brands grappled with fractional declines, according to nationwide sales data collected by Nielsen. Dollar sales of private label were up by +9.3% while unit sales rose by +9.1%. In contrast, national brands slipped -0.3% in dollar volume and fell back a full -1% in unit volume.

Thanks entirely to private brands, overall sales in the mass channel during 2017 grew by +1.3% for dollars and +1% for units. Total private brand dollar sales were $54.9 billion, compared with $50.2 billion for the prior year, a run-up of nearly $5 billion. In unit volume, store brands rose to 17.9 billion from 16.4 billion. Total sales for both dollars and units are the highest on record.

As a result of their strong 52-week performance, private label market share in the mass channel soared. Dollar share saw a +1.3 percentage points gain to 18%; unit share advanced +1.6 points to 21.4%, also all-time highs.

The mass channel is an ongoing store brands success story. Since 2015 alone, annual store brand dollar sales in the sector have increased by $7.5 billion, a gain of +15.8%.

Store brand annual unit volume over the same period has risen by 2.3 billion, an improvement of +14.6%.

The results in the mass channel for 2017 pushed Nielsen’s store brands figures to positive territory across all outlets combined, despite weak performances for private label in supermarkets and drug stores. For total outlets, dollar sales for store brands was up +2.7% and unit volume rose +1.4%. Correspondingly, store brand dollar market share in all outlets gained half a point: up to 18%, while unit share increased +0.6 points to 21.7%.

During 2017, store brand sales across all outlets measured by Nielsen came in at $122.3 billion, up from $119.1 billion, while units moved up to 44.6 billion from 43.9 billion.

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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.