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Assessing the Private Label Phenomenon

The surge in private label has given more leverage to retailers over suppliers and changed the way trading partners look at categories.

So what is the view of manufacturers about the current state of private label at retail?

A Center Store-oriented panel of suppliers addressed this topic today from a number of angles while avoiding overly pointed comments about this controversial subject.

“Private label has caused manufacturers to become more accountable and invest in brand equities,” observed Patty Ahlert, vice president, KUSA Category Management and Shopper Insights, Kellogg Co. “We call that renovation, or true innovation rather than line extensions.”

John Mayer, vice president, sales, grocery market, The J.M. Smucker Co., said it’s important to avoid putting the same private label profile on all categories. “In some categories there’s a larger role for store brands.”

Ahlert emphasized the need for balance in determining the brand/private label mix. “If the balance is out of whack, then the category won’t grow, she said. You don’t want to shift too far to the right.”

Meanwhile, in addition to all the talk of collaboration and Center Store, there was again lots of discussion about the topic of hiring and retention, which is central to this event's theme. You can see some of that on FMI's official show blog here: http://futureconnect.wordpress.com