PLBuyer Exclusive: Top Five PL Trend Predictions for 2011

December 7, 2010
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Establishing the fine art of branding as a retailer core strategy and improving portfolio management are two of the five trends that Chris Durham, marketer, blogger and member of Private Label Buyer’s newly established editorial board, sees for private label in 2011.
“Private brands will continue to grow in the coming year as retailers improve both their products and their branding. Consumers have tasted the quality of private brand and will not soon return to paying the brand tax,” says Durham.
Durham’s top five private label trend predictions for 2011 are:
1. Corporate strategic pillar – retailers will increasingly understand the importance of private brands and reaffirm this to their associates and Wall Street by establishing private brands as one of their corporate strategic pillars.
“Innovation for a discount retailer may be incremental and simply mean package size, structure or flavor,” Durham says in the December issue of PLBuyer. “However, innovation for a premium organic retailer could mean new and unique products that are also good for the environment. Retailers must know their strategy, know their customer and build their innovation resources appropriately.”

2. Brand building – retailers will continue to commit resources and build teams that establish branding as a core competency in their organization.

“Good package design is the cost of entry in 2011, great package design is the way to move the needle,” Durham says, “Structural innovation is a different question. Although there have been standouts over the last few years – including Target, Method and others – by and large structure is dictated by cost and large manufacturers’ capabilities. This is an untapped opportunity for both national and private brands.”

3. Portfolio management – retailers will begin to manage their entire portfolio of private brands as assets with unique propositions, each of which makes a valuable contribution to their business and connection with their customer.

“Each category and channel should evaluate their brand mix and proved their customers with the solution that is appropriate to their business model,” Durham says. “There is no right or wrong penetration level.”
4. Lifestyle brands – retailers will begin to transcend the tired good-better-best structure that has defined private label strategy for the last 30 years. New Lifestyle brands will emerge that combine products in unique ways to solve a consumer problem or need.
5. Differentiation – retailers will continue to attempt to build private brands that give consumers a reason to choose them over national brands.
Consumers are open to trying premium brands in all channels, concludes Durham. “If a retailer can provide a unique premium product that fills a consumer need, they have the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves and steal share from both other brands and other retailers. If they can also create a brand customers know and trust, they will create loyal customers.”
Durham has more than 15 years of brand-building experience with major US retailers, ad agencies and media outlets. His career has focused on private brand and retail brand development and strategy. To read his blog go to

To see the full list of predicted 2011 trends by the PLB editorial board, go to

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