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Private Label Brands Grow in Share of Total Store Sales, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Discount stores and a number of other retailers are offering more and more products that are private label.  Instead of being limited to selling branded products from major manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, growing numbers of stores are contracting for the manufacture of store-branded merchandise.  Such is the case with Walmart and its Ol’ Roy dog food, the George line of apparel or the Sam’s Choice products found in its Sam’s Club stores.  One-half of the goods sold at Target and Kroger stores are now privately branded (Kroger owns and operates dozens of manufacturing facilities in the U.S.).  Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand is on everything from cookware to paper goods to food items.  Although this method has long been used by department store chains and a handful of specialty store chains, few have picked it up with as much enthusiasm or effectiveness as the discount retailers.
Rampant inflation in 2022 deeply challenged consumers’ household budgets and caused sales of private label goods to grow due to their lower prices.  Sales of private-label items are generally growing at a faster rate than those of name brands.  Overall, private-label sales in the U.S. (in supermarkets, drug stores, mass-market merchandisers and club and dollar stores) reached $228.6 billion in 2022, up from $199 billion in 2021 and $158.8 billion in 2020, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA).  One out of every four products sold in the U.S. has a private label or is a store brand.
Supermarket company Kroger Co. saw private label sales rise by more than 10% after adding 147 new store-brand products in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same quarter of 2021.  New products included Kroger’s brand called Smart Way, which launched in September 2022 and was already purchased by two million households by the end of the quarter.  Europe’s Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV reported that store brands account for half of all sales in the Netherlands and Belgium (compared to only about 30% in the U.S.).  France’s Carrefour says that private label products account for 33% of sales currently and plans to increase that share to 40% by 2026.  Many consumers have determined that store brands consistently offer high quality at much lower everyday prices. Retailers note that store brands boost customer loyalty.
As an alternative to going through the painful process of establishing their own brand names, discount stores have also been picking up brands that have been left by the wayside.  Taking brand names that were abandoned by their original manufacturers, or ones whose trademarks have expired, the retailer then releases the product afresh, relying on the memories of its customers to inspire renewed sales of the product.  A prime, and somewhat ironic, example of this is White Cloud toilet paper, which was originally made by Procter & Gamble.  After P&G dropped the brand, it was picked up by Walmart.  Taking advantage of a once well-recognized brand name, Walmart put its White Cloud private brand toilet paper on all its shelves and saw sales skyrocket as customers remembered an old favorite.  Sitting next to it on the shelves, at a slightly higher price, was Charmin, the toilet paper currently made by Procter & Gamble. is into private labels in a big way.  Amazon launched a line of house brand items called Amazon Elements.  Initial products included diapers and baby wipes.  Diapers have long been a very high-volume item for Amazon.  The Elements line is designed to appeal to eco-conscious and quality-conscious consumers.  The firm provides very deep product origin information, such as where and when each item was made and the sources of ingredients.  Amazon has also developed a line of electronic accessories called AmazonBasics, which has diversified to offer a wide variety of products such as fitness equipment, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom items, garden and outdoor furniture, home office supplies and much more.

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