Reversal of Fortune: National Brands Pick Up Gains on Private Label

Reversal of Fortune: National Brands Pick Up Gains on Private Label

SymphonyIRI'sTimes & Trends highlights new developments and critical events across all major CPG categories and channels, providing powerful benchmarking data to help guide your strategic decisions. This report explores current and emerging trends around private label, as well as national brand efforts to protect and grow their position in the CPG marketplace.


In a strange way, The Great Recession and the struggling economy that has bracketed it was a boon for marketers of private label consumer packaged goods (CPG) products.  In the months leading up to the downturn, these marketers were notching up their focus on these products, keenly aware of the fact that their store branded products would offer improved margins and an opportunity to differentiate their banners from competitors and solidify their relationship with their shoppers.  During the past several years, private label marketers have remained intently focused on growing their store brand programs.  Innovation is no longer a game of “me too” for retailers who are looking far and wide for ingredients and technologies that will allow them to differentiate their offerings, address the full value spectrum   and/or otherwise disrupt “the norm.”

Meanwhile, national brand marketers continue to look for means to offer quality, excitement and value that will protect their brands from private label encroachment, entice current buyers to buy more and, ideally, persuade new shoppers to buy their products.  Detailed throughout this report, the battle for share remains quite intense.  National brands and private brands are each scoring some important wins. 

Tradition will continue as both private label and national brands must co-exist in the store.  This means each must complement each other  to bring creativity and excitement into the CPG environment, and provide perceptual and real value for shoppers of all life stages and circumstances.

Select Findings

Private label unit share of CPG products slipped to 17.1% during the past year.  This marks a second straight year of share decline for private brands.  In fact, national brands captured share in 40 of the 100 largest CPG categories.  For the period, dollar sales increased slightly, driven largely by price increases.


Private Label Share of Spending Chart
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Private label penetration has slipped across a majority of CPG channels, with club being a notable exception.  Within club, private label penetration has increased more than one point during the past two years, to nearly 43%.  And, while private label buy rate within club has fallen slightly, it is above industry average and above declines seen across most other channels.


Private Label Penetration by Channel Chart
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**Download the entire report in pdf format.** [3]