Store brand names are much more powerful today than decades ago, when they were lightly advertised and often packaged anonymously.
Today, store brands offer better quality and design – and better names.
Upwards of 25% of items sold in U.S. supermarkets are store-branded. These private-label sales grew twice as fast as national brands in 2014, according to the Private Label Manufacturers’ Association.
- Grocery goliath Kroger proudly offers Simple Truth organic and natural products, which recorded 2014 sales of $1.2 billion and continues to generate double-digit growth. (Kroger has thousands of privately branded food and drink items.)
- Walmart’s brand of dog food, Ol’ Roy (named for the founder’s pooch), is one of the country’s top-selling dog chows.
Store brands show up in just about every food and non-food category. J.C. Penney generates half its sales from its stable of private brands, such as St. John’s Bay clothing and Arizona jeans.
There’s history behind the store-brand phenomenon. At retailer Sears, the Craftsman tool brand and the Kenmore appliance brand were both introduced in 1927. Today, the two brands generate $6 billion annually in U.S. sales. Another famous Sears brand, DieHard batteries, dates to 1967.
A 2014 survey showed more than 90% of American women bought store brands to save money. Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart were among the low-price winners in every category.
What about the quality? It’s good and getting better. When Consumer Reports surveyed 24,000 consumers about supermarket shopping, 74% were “highly satisfied” with the quality of store brands. And expert tasters at Consumer Reports judged 33 of 57 store-branded foods as good as or better than the national brand.
What about design? No question about it. Packaging is more attractive than ever before, and gets more time and attention from staff and outside designers. The overall effect: Store brands look more authentic.
And store brand naming has taken a leap forward. Now, internal brandmeisters weigh competitive names against the attributes of their own brands. More than ever, their store names set up a communications premise and are pleasing to the eye and the ear.
- Walmart has multiple store brands beyond dog chow. Equate(health and beauty items), Sam’s Choice (beverages and food), and Spring Valley(vitamins) make up a big chunk of total store sales.
- Stop & Shop Supermarkets introduced Nature’s Promise, a line of natural and organic foods; and Mi Casa, “for those with a taste for authentic Latin food.”
- Safeway created a signature brand of beef, Rancher’s Reserve, and promotes it to compete with higher-priced national brands.
Bottom line: Expect more and better store-brand names.