Private brands go public

While I may have some rather more cerebral observations from this week’s Private Brand event in Chicago in the next few days, one simple statistic got my attention the very first day.

23% of the dollars spent at an average retailer are now spent on private brands, according to Lisa Rider, VP Retail Marketing, at The Nielson Company. That’s nearly 1 dollar for every 4 dollars spent!

Needless to say those of us with a design practice that is seeing an increase in private brand development, have been sensitive to this for some time. Others in the consumer brand design industry ignore that number at their peril.

But for retailers that appears to be the good news. The bad news according to Ms. Rider, is that this market share will grow very slowly for the next decade, at less than one half of one percent a year. Yes, there will be exceptions, but that is Nielson’s overall prediction, given current demographic and economic expectations. The very quick jump in several percentage points that took place during this economic crisis, from roughly  20% to 23%, will hold, but not grow quickly from here.

I can tell you there was some disagreement about this assumption among the retailers I spoke with in the hall. Most seem more optimistic.

This event was organized by Christopher Durham of the site My Private Brand. And during his comments on Tuesday he expounded on a number of issues. Some of the most interesting included,
1. Consumers don’t care who owns the brand
2. Stop whining – no one deserves shelf space
3. Tell a story
4. Make private brands a core competency
5. Make private brands a strategic pillar
6. Be proud of your brand
7. White is dead

I found the last idea the most intriguing, given the recent importance that white has played as a foundation of many new, and closely watched, private brand introductions, as well as a core element in a significant number of new national brand identities.

As Michael Ellgass, Senior Director of Grocery Marketing for Walmart, said during his comments on their Great Value brand, “the home team always wears white.”

More on this color debate (is it really a color or just a default, and can you own it and build a brand around it) in the next few days.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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2 Responses to Private brands go public

  1. Pingback: MY private brand » Private Brand Goes Public at the Privae Brand Movement

  2. Dennis Moons says:

    Looking forward to reading about the color debate.

    One of the first private label brands I can remember from my childhood was a brand called “White Products”. A store brand that had a simple piggy bank logo, the brand name and put these on whatever product they were selling.

    Now the brand has evolved a lot. But I remember that clean packaging!

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