Private brand is any brand that comprises the retailers’ name or any name created by the retailer (PLMA 2017). Target, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens market their own brands. For instance, Target has a store brand “Up & Up” in their household product line that is much diversified. Some retailers, such as Walmart, see private label as part of the road to their future success. Indeed, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, when speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Consumer & Retail Technology Conference in New York, stated that “The widespread availability of name-brand products online will compress the margins of private brands over time.” He also added that "having a private brand from a margin mix point of view has always been important, but it is even more important now.” Therefore, it is important to educate customers about private brands. Indeed there are some misconceptions about store brands:
1. They are of lower quality than manufacturer brands
2. They are manufactured by the retailer
3. There is only one category of store brands
4. They have low prices
5. They generate high risk
According to PLMA (2017), there are different ways that store brands are manufactured. They can be produced by:
• Large manufacturers who produce both their own brands and private label products.
• Small and medium size manufacturers that specialize in particular product lines and concentrate on producing private label almost exclusively.
• Major retailers and wholesalers that operate their own manufacturing plants and provide private label products for their own stores.
Private label brands are classified into generic brands, standard brands or copycat brands or flagship brands, premium brands, and value innovators.
1. Generic brands are usually cheap, inferior products. Usually they do not carry the name of the retailer on the package , but simply the name of the product, such as ‘milk’ or ‘butter’, in plain script . They usually use very cheap packaging .
2. Copycats or flagship brands or standard brands. They usually carry the name of the retailer and tend to copy the main manufacturer within that category, they have packaging and price points very similar to the main manufacturer.
3. Premium store brands are usually of higher quality than the manufacturer brand and compete directly against the manufacturer’s brand. Kumar and Steenkamp (2007) define two types of premium brands: the premium private label which is exclusive, higher in price, and superior in quality to competing brands; and the premium-lite store brand which is promoted as being equal or better in quality to the competing brands, while being cheaper.
4. The fourth category is value innovators which consists mainly of retailers reducing costs and processes to simplify the production and marketing of product ranges, so that a good quality product can be offered at very low prices. They are usually limited in number.
Store brands provide retailers with several key benefits. It gives them exclusivity to offer their customers special products, which make consumers loyal to them. In addition, store brands create a unique brand image and generate more retailer brand recall and recognition. Finally, store brands increase retailers’ revenues and have higher profit margins.
The positive or negative attitude towards store brands has been attributed to several causes. Consumers evaluate store brands based on price/value of those brands, the products’ attributes, on the perceived risk and on their own self-perception (smart shopper). Consumers who buy store brands realize that when they are indeed purchasing store brands they are paying for certain “marketing” practices for manufacturers’ brands, which is not the case of retailers' brands.