Industry News / Private Label vs. National Brands

Store Brands Growth Continues to Outpace National Brands

April 14, 2014
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With the release of PLMA’s 2014 Annual Private Label Yearbook, it’s indisputable that store  brands have extended their multiyear period of growth, outpacing national brands in dollar and unit gains and setting new share records in all major U.S. retail channels. The development that had been touted in some quarters as inevitable – shoppers’ returning en masse to big brands – failed to materialize for yet another year. 

Instead, it was business as usual according to data provided to PLMA by The Nielsen Company for the 52 weeks ending December 27, 2013 – national brands ceded precious market share as consumers continued to reach for quality and value in store brands.

In supermarkets, unit and dollar shares rose to 23.4 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively. In drug chains, unit market share advanced to 17.3 percent while dollar share increased to 16.4 percent. Across all outlets combined, which includes Wal-Mart, mass merchandisers, the club channel, dollar stores and military exchanges, shares moved up to 21.2 percent in units and 17.5 percent in dollars. All share marks are records.

The recent run up of store brand sales is remarkable. Since 2011, annual sales of store brands in supermarkets have increased +3 percent, or $1.6 billion, and in drug stores they have climbed +9 percent, or $700 million. In all outlets combined, annual sales have grown +5 percent, or $5.3 billion.

The performance comes as no surprise to executives in the store brands business, though some observers have been warning for years that store brands had their moment and recent share gains would hold steady or even decline as economically relieved consumers flocked back to brands. But a funny thing happened on the way to what big CPG companies would consider marketplace normalcy: consumers balked. During financially pinched times many had turned to store brands and had come to like, even prefer, them. It became clear that a large segment of these shoppers were not going back to the big brands. 

“In response to the trend, retailers across the country are freshening private label offerings and rolling out new products and whole new lines to their shelves,” explained PLMA president Brian Sharoff. “Looking ahead, store brand portfolios of leading retailers will likely accelerate their emphasis on consumer-focused positioning.”

In announcing the 2014 edition of PLMA’s Private Label Yearbook, Sharoff noted, "For the first time, our 22-year-old reference moves from print publication to an exclusively online resource, where store brands performance can more easily be examined and tracked category by category and quarter by quarter, across nine U.S. regional divisions and by channel.”

The annual compilation has become the benchmarking standard for retailers and suppliers, where Nielsen sales and market shares statistics are reported for more than 700 product categories. Retailers and wholesalers can gain free access to the data and analysis, including new updates every quarter, by logging in at www.askplma.com and following the prompts for Private Label Yearbook. 

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