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Nielsen Co. Senior Vice President Todd Hale kicked off the inaugural PLBuyer conference Wednesday morning by telling the audience that multicultural audiences presented a major opportunity for private label retailers and suppliers.
"When you talk about the opportunity, Hispanic-Americans would have the 12th largest economy in the world after Mexico," Hale said. "African-Americans would be the 17th largest, and Asian-Americans would be the 27th largest.
"There is a general underdevelopment in private label among multicultural households."
Private label sales have continued to go during the recession, Hale said, with Nielsen estimating a 12 percent growth rate in the industry the past two years, more than double the growth of branded items.
Private brands now account for about 18 percent of dollar sales, he said, with some retailers such as Aldi and Save-A-Lot devoting the majority of their business to private label.
"The leaders have a real deep understanding of their shoppers, and they've been able to develop a core set of categories to connect with them," he said.
Hale said that to continue private label growth in the future, retailers would need to conduct their private label business more like branded companies handle theirs.
"I think if you look around, national brands are really doing a lot greater innovation focused around consumer solutions," he said. "Whether that's better-for-you products for humans or pets, multicultural innovation ... I'd argue that private brands are still me-too focused.
"Private label is venturing into new territory. Future growth is likely, but the level is likely going to be dictated by how much innovation (retailers provide)."