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The evolution of private label

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Note from the editor

Private label products have come a long way from the days when customers often viewed them as lower-quality alternatives to brand name goods that only stood out because they were cheaper. Grocers have been working in recent years to improve the image of items sold under their own house names, helping private label lines emerge as key growth drivers for the industry.

These efforts have been paying dividends. An analysis released by the Food Industry Association and IRI released in late 2019 found that 46% of shoppers make decisions about where to shop based on the private label products available at particular stores. Interest by consumers in buying private label items helped store brands exceed national brands in growth last year — and the economic problems unleashed by the pandemic are adding fuel to that trend by pushing shoppers to put a higher premium on value than they had in the past.

Large retailers have spent 2020 sprucing up their private label offerings. In January, for example, Kroger rolled out plant-based burgers and other meat substitutes under its Simple Truth house brand, which also includes plant-based cookie dough, pasta sauces and other products. Walmart revamped its Winemarkers Selection line of low-priced wines in August with new labels, a smaller selection and a $5 price point in an effort to simplify its pitch to consumers. And in September, Target beefed up its Good & Gather line of store-branded products with dozens of new products as part of a broad overhaul of its private label strategy.

This report includes an assortment of stories that provide insight into the growing role private labels are playing in the grocery industry. You’ll find details about:

  • The effect of the pandemic on the prospects for growth among private label products
  • How packaging can impact how shoppers view store-branded items
  • Efforts by The Giant Company to marry private label value with the convenience consumers crave
  • Target’s drive to expand and rebrand its private label selection
  • The challenges grocers face in convincing shoppers accustomed to national brands that buying private labels products doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality

We hope you enjoy this comprehensive look at how grocers are changing their approach to selling private label goods to consumers.

Sam Silverstein Reporter

Private label is more influential than ever in determining store choice, report says

Forty-six percent of customers say private label brands influence where they shop, up from 35% three years ago, according to the Food Marketing Institute and IRI.

Target adds premium products to its Good & Gather line

Good & Gather Signature has launched with 60 items including small-batch Italian sauces and gourmet pizzas, helping bring the private label line to nearly 2,000 products.

The Giant Company has fresh protein prep in the bag

The grocer's new "Cook-In-Bag" private label line helps shoppers, who are cooking at home more these days, prepare main dishes like Mediterranean cod and Asian teriyaki chicken breasts.

Private label sales outpace national brands in Q1

Store brands saw double-digit growth across all U.S. food retailers with mass merchandisers, club and dollar stores seeing the largest increase.

Whole Foods virtual campaign showcases 365 brand refresh

The retailer has updated branding on around 1,000 products so far and will host a series of online home economics classes to promote the new look.

Private label prospects brighten as recession hits cash-strapped consumers

Even before the pandemic, sales growth in the sector was forecast to outpace that of national brands for the fourth straight year, according to IRI.

Kroger debuts plant-based fresh meat brand

Simple Truth Emerge is a line of pea-based burger patties and grinds that will be available across the company's stores.

Walmart's Winemakers Selection gets a refresh

The retailer has relaunched its private label wine in about 2,600 stores, featuring a new label, a pared-down assortment and a $5 price point

The Evolution of Private Label

Private label products have come a long way from the days when customers often viewed them as lower-quality alternatives to brand name goods that only stood out because they were cheaper. Grocers have been working in recent years to improve the image of items sold under their own house names, helping private label lines emerge as key growth drivers for the industry.

included in this trendline
  • Efforts by The Giant Company to marry private label value with the convenience consumers crave
  • Target’s drive to expand and rebrand its private label selection
  • The effect of the pandemic on the prospects for growth among private label products
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.