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  What is the shelf life of name brands?
 The more sophisticated the shopper, the more they know that the private label goods are the same as the branded product. The only difference is savings. I'd say the shelf life of branded goods is dated. 
A sophisticated consumer - August 30, 2002
 Nowadays, when there are a lot of sophisticated customers knowing that everything is the same -- when price/quality factor is almost the same for all the products -- it is not an economical argument that makes us choose one product over another, it is all about emotion. Why choose no-name red wine over Santa Rita Casa Real? Only because the fist is ten times cheaper? Why buy no-name juice when R.i.c.h. makes me feel better? I love the brands i buy. That's it -- not the money. 
Sergey Revin, marketing manager, Rusimport Trade House, Russia - August 31, 2002
 Yes, branded products are under increasing pressure. But a well-managed brand will still have an advantage in product development and innovation. If a private label wants to compete with all its aspects, there will probably be no price advantage for it left. It will be just another (private) branded product. 
PR and branding consultant, Norway - August 31, 2002
 Customers are always looking for new things. Innovations usually come from brands. If private labels want to succeed, they have to invest in research and development. Then they will become more expensive ... and there will be no more advantage for the customer. Therefore: there will always be innovative brands. 
Karin Lehmann, Brand consultant - September 1, 2002
 The question: What is the shelf life of name brands?
The answer: Whatever the retailer says it is.
The takeaway: 'Brands' beware. 
Peter Thomas, marketing manager, Daymon Associates, Japan - September 1, 2002
 Perhaps it depends on the product in question: more room for luxury lifestyle products like wine, less so for commodities like milk and cereal. 
Linus Lim, Phillip Securities - September 1, 2002
 Private label products will only be as strong as the skills, knowledge and budgets of those who manage them. PL departments are accountable for retailer gross margins and cost management. Few if any private label managers work toward product innovation or sustainable competitive advantage outside of a price discount to the comparison brand. If the management culture changes, then PL may indeed soar to new heights. 
David Lakey, President, The Lake Group - September 1, 2002
 We were having this discussion over 15 years ago, when I was at college. So, whilst I am not sure of the age of contributors here, the brand and status quo with private label has remained. Both are still with us and will probably continue. There is a market for both and a reason for both.

The strength of private label rests in the strength of the retail brand, be it Carrefour, ASDA or Marks & Spencer... 

Nigel Beale, Business Development Director, Sargent Page - September 2, 2002
 I believe that the answer depends on the category of the product. Some FMCG categories such as detergents, softeners, toiletry products, and basic foods (rice, flour, sugar) are in serious danger of losing out to private labels. On the other hand, product categories which inherently require trust and familiarity (because of health issues -- water, bread etc.) will never be surpassed by private labels because price is not the main determining factor in choice. 
Tolga Kucukyumuk, Marketing Manager, Michelin, Turkey - September 2, 2002
 Private brands are the response of supermarkets to the success of branded products. Apparently for supermarkets, of the four P's price is the main issue. However, they got it wrong. The investment in technology, R&D and pride (resulting in emotional attachment from consumers) cannot be substituted with a simple bottle or package without a known father and mother. Private brands will die out or will have to become brands themselves to succeed and then the price differential will disappear. 
Juan Mansfield, General Manager, Interamerica Assoc to Lowe Lintas - September 2, 2002
 If the consumer was completely driven by price then it would be a different story (lets hope there isn't a major global recession then!). Brands are about trust. People don't just buy corn flakes, they buy Kelloggs Corn Flakes. If a brand gets it right and knows what it stands for, then the consumer will buy into that and the brand will succeed. The area where a private label brand is starting to progress is when it is creating its own individual 'Brands,' such as Sainsbury's Red Label Tea, Sainsbury's Novon Washing powder, Boots Botanicals, Tesco Finest, etc. Not only do people relate to these as brands in their own right, they have a positive effect on the store's brand. 
Lee Newham, Creative Director, Ideas Frescas - September 3, 2002
 As consumers become more sophisticated, there will be less and less room for branded good. I think there will always be room for brands, because of the emotional ties to them. However, I don't think they will dominate like they once did. Commodity products in particular will be dominated by PVL brands instead of national brands. 
Kym Wilner, Customer Service Leader, GE Licensing - September 3, 2002
 I think the comments here will reflect a truth that there will always be room for both. The challenge for manufactured brands is to ensure that they retain the trade power that they have previously had.

Previously, a grocery retailer without Heinz, Kellogg’s, etc, was not offering what customers wanted. Now the situation is not so clear cut. One key tactic brand manufacturers can employ is by supplying private label products to the retailers. This may sound like anathema to many brand manufacturers but this means they not only have an additional source of revenue from customer segments they might otherwise have found hard to target, but also they can keep product quality differences in place.

This last point is often overlooked. As soon as the customer believes the products are identical the brand premium disappears. An example would be Jacob's Cream Crackers which has allowed private label products to get too close. Innovation, of course, is key and the threat of product parity means brand owners must keep their core products ahead of the retailers as well as the competition. But as more and more retailers become the competition, by supplying them with the products that will compete with your brand you put yourself in a position of control.

The other factor to remember is that, with the few rare exceptions such as Marks & Spencer, retailers need brands (M&S sells only private label). It means that good collaboration with retailers is always going to be critical to business success. Brand manufacturers need to leverage the trade relationships they already have and develop a private label strategy with their key retail customers to ensure that their brands remain differentiated and both manufacturer and retailer develop the category to their mutual benefit. 

Fred Burt, BrandWizard Technologies - September 3, 2002
 Brand owners should stop talking P-L 'threat' from a combined market share blindspot. The situation will play out chain-by-chain with retailers clever enough to 'brand' versus just banner winning P-L sales.

Brands (packaged goods and retailer) connecting a meaningful match-up with consumers' rational and emotional needs such to reinforce real (or aspirational) personality attributes will be the ones to thrive. 

Debra Pollack, New Business Development & Marketing Consultant, United Media - September 3, 2002
 To say that there will only be private label brands is like saying there will only be one class in society. So much for the success of communism. Private label brands have been around for a long time and they haven't taken over. What makes people think they will soon? Some people will always be willing to pay more for perceived quality. The only way private label brands grow significantly bigger is by becoming like true brands. President's Choice (a rip off from the British model) is an example of this. But this requires marketing -- or brand activity. The model of brand architecture becomes different, but consumers are putting their trust in the name behind the product. The true question therefore is when do private label brands become more like traditional brands? 
Brian Spain, Director of Account Planning, McClain Finlon - September 3, 2002
 Surely as a private brand develops, it grows and becomes stronger. the more people who consume, the larger the brand the greater the reputation and bang, theres a new big brand! 
Chris Mumford, Design Student - September 3, 2002
 The generic or private label boom is a result of consumers become more informed. However, brands will never dissapear because most people still believe there is a difference in quality (favouring the brands). The success of one over the other depends on the emotional connection to the product as well as the rational function of the product. A commodity that serves a totally rational purpose such as paper towel may favour generic/private labels, whereas a product that represents a lifestyle or emotional choice may favour the brand name products. Without getting into the argument that private brands are in fact brands themselves, it is impossible to believe there will ever be a world without brand name products. If perception is everything, some consumers will always want to be perceived as “x” by purchasing brand “y” over private label “z”. 
Darren Stein, Project Director, Jigsaw Strategic Research - September 3, 2002
 Supermarket own-label products are limited by the demand of demonstrating price-leadership for the store as a whole. Take Tesco's own-label cakes as an example: if you look at the sugar content of these cakes, it's been increasing gradually over recent years, so that now many are over 50% sugar. Why? Because the need to compete with Mr. Kipling etc. on quality is conflicted by the need of the overall Tesco brand to compete with Asda on price. Wherever the price message is central to the supermarket's brand, there will always be pressure to source lower quality own-label products, allowing branded products to retain their premium status. 
Harry Briggs, Marketing Director, UK small company - September 4, 2002
 We need to be mindful of the different factors that are considered at the point of purchase. This is after all how brands position themselves in the first place.

So-called mundane necessities e.g. laundry detergent will hardly be given the same attention by a young man as the shirts the detergent will ultimately clean. The perception is likely to be that all detergents are more or less equal so buy something that looks reasonable but is cheap. Most shirts are also almost indistinguishable and yet what a difference that brand name makes.

The opinion: both private label brands and name brand products will always coexist. Consumerism as it is demands this choice. What keeps the one distinct from the other is the innovation and character fostered by the name brand. The metrics you quote simply serve to draw the boundaries between the respective players in any marketplace. 

Polly Willson, Marketing & PR Consultant, beBRAND - September 4, 2002
 I believe that we are living in the later days of the Golden Age of Marketing, an Age which was originally brought about by the development of co-incidental mass production, mass distribution and mass communication.

All the factors outlined in the comments below suggest that this Golden Age is coming to an end. But that does not mean that brands will disappear, anymore than films disappeared off the face of the earth when Hollywood’s golden age came to an end.

What it does mean (if we ever learn anything from history) is that whilst there will always be a place for branded goods – since when were all things bought, all of the time, purely on price criteria? – brands will no longer be the dominanant driving factor behind business. And it also means that those brands that DO want to be dominant, need to get even more clever, creative and willing to invest.

In short, chaps, business as usual – just we need to work harder! The story of the 21st Century perhaps… 

Matthew Lonsdale, Partner, - September 4, 2002
 Private labels is another brand that offers value to the the customer in categories where the customer is not getting any. No private label brand can kill the leading brands but will surely weed out the inefficient ones and occupy their share. The impact of private labels is thus very category specific. More inefficient the category better are the chances for the private label brand to succeed. 
Amit Gadkari, Senior Manager - Retail, Reliance Petroleum India - September 5, 2002
 Private labels have proven themselves when it comes to saving money on one's grocery bill. The problem is that they do not enable the consumer to feel associated with them. That is why strong brands will always be with us. They serve us on many levels. There is an association that we have with them. They are an extension of us and stand as an outward statement of who we are and how we see ourselves out fittin in as part of the consumer and commercial landscape. 
Anonymous - September 8, 2002
 'No-names' are really 'anti-traditional-brand brands' in their positioning. They often derive their life from traditional brands but lack the built-in quality guarantee (with exceptions) and, above all, they lack ubiquity. The lack of ubiquity is also a disadvantage of private labels. Traditional brands with both quality and other image components kept distinctive are still strong, have a place -- even with little advertising: Try to beat Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce or Angostura Bitters with a no-name or a private label brand. They are and will be for a long time great brands compared to no-name worcestershire sauce; could there ever be no-name equivalent of Angostura Bitters at all? 
Professor Guenther Mueller-Heumann, Emeritus Professor of Marketing (Otago), Self-Employed, Auckland, New Zealand - September 9, 2002
 Private labels can only succeed as far as the label's master brand allows...for example, Publix-brand cornflakes carries with it the laurels and liabilities of the Publix brand / and as we all know, no one brand can appeal to all consumers. Therefore, as long as "public label" brands maintain a proposition that is unique to the private label, the difference in price can still be justified. 
Sean Trapani, Senior copywriter, Erwin Penland - September 9, 2002
 If retailers don't accept the branded goods anymore and choose to promote their private brands more heavily, a shift will be made towards different locations where the branded products are sold. There are already examples of owners of big brands that start their own outlets to support the brand message they are trying to communicate. Furthermore, people want to distinguish themselves from others, so there will definitely be a market for branded goods somewhere. 
Joost Houben, Graduate student, Maastricht University, the Netherlands - September 9, 2002
 Consumers are becoming more value-driven. The evidence is clear that a well presented line of private label products can build brand equity at the expence of better known mainstream brands. Ultimately the majority of consumers are price driven [as are retailers] so as long as the quality is there private label will ultimately be dominate by volume in retail.

No doubt, the niche brands with strong USP's will probably never dissapear . . . but time will tell. 

Grant Hall, Director, Corporate Water Brands - September 9, 2002
 As supermarkets start to pull together ranges into lifestyle brands (taste the difference, blue parrot et al) using information drawn from their databases. Realistically no branded house can compete with these. Brands need to keep a high level of NPD and advertising to sustain any sort of market advantage, although retailers are the ultimate arbitors of success and perhaps, over time, there will become a conflict between the retailers and brands aspirations (and we know who will come out on top of that decision. 
Mike Lawless, Senior Brand Manager, UK Brand Manufacturer - September 10, 2002
 The difference between public brands and private labels is a myth created by the brand lobby. There is no fundamental distinction.

Starbucks is probably considered as a private label. Is there any brand in the world that can compete?

The German market leader in laptops is Medion, a private label OEM that sells via Aldi and Tchibo. Brand-name competitors like IBM, Dell and Toshiba have outsourced production to other OEM's.

In packaged food the old brands seem to hold their turf, but look at new categories such as bio, fresh and readymade. Large retailers are the real fast movers here. Recently even Shell launched a new private label/brand: re-fresh! 

Antoine van der Heijden, Writer, Self-Employed - September 10, 2002
 Private labels sell by offering a better monetary value by way of preferred shelf placement. But, while they communicate they compare themselves to premium brands. So if there were no premium brands, then it would an oligopolistic or monopolistic scenario. Name brands are there to stay, for private labels thrive on functional and monetary value, not emotional. Who are the innovators, the spenders, and wonderful communicators. Private labels brands are welcome,. It won't be long before we have retailers who have a USP of carrying name brands, and of course extended support by the Branded companies. 
Mustak Panawadhu, Graduate Student, aspiring Product Executive, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, US - September 10, 2002
 Quality products at reasonable cost matters. So different products under one category under one brand would fetch more. Eg. all types of food products under one brand...FOOD WORLD. products will be differentiated on the basis of use and specific use. 
Ravindra, Management Student, SCMHRD - September 11, 2002
 Private labels are becoming more and more brands (I don't really know the stuation in the US, but here, in Turkey, that's how it is) because our world was and will be a world of perceptions not realities. So, I think that people will continue to buy 'being a good house wife or mother,' not detergent. I think that in the future private labels won't be only boxes filled by goods, but will be --perhaps without marketing communication efforts in the mass media to reduce the final prizes -- things with strong messages and positionings. 
Baris Bakir, Advertising Student, Anadolu University - September 12, 2002
 A serious flaw in many of the comments on this page is the argument that nowadays 'people are more value-conscious' or that there 'is a growing shift towards a value proposition.'

It’s an error because it suggests that there was a time when people were not driven by value. Nonsense of course. Try saying that to any European who lived through the 1950’s for example. It is, however, the sort of perspective that tends to pervade the gilded ivory tower of marketing: we too often forget about the real world out there.

Quality and Value have always been vital attributes for any product. The ‘no-name’ brands (which are often actually very well branded) arose as a powerful market force simply as a Newtonian reaction to the fact that name brands focused less on Value, because there is only so much information that a brand can meaningfully communicate nowadays.

There’s room for them both now. And there will always be room for them both. 

Matthew Lonsdale, Partner, - September 12, 2002
 To the best of my knowledge and other authors, 'value' is one of the dimensions of the overall offering. More so important to most of the people who fall in the lower and middle class segment. Based on experiences, it also applies to the lower uper class. The value proposition also applies to the majority of products and services available. Finally, value has many compositions.

Customers without doubt are getting sophisticated, and they choose a branded product or an expensive product because they find more value in it. It might or might not apply to say a purchase of Rolls Royce. The winning question is what do I get out of it?

So it is wrong to undermine value, even monetary. 

Mustak Panawadhu, Grad Student, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL - September 12, 2002
 Mustak, sorry to disagree, but (and this is an interesting fact for the future of the name/no-name debate) certainly in Europe, penetration of ‘no-name’ value brands is actually higher amongst the 'upper classes' (if one defines class by income level).

This seems counter-intuitive, until you start thinking that much of the impetus behind the development of these brands has been in the printed media, penetration of which amongst is lower amongst lower income groups.

My point is that people have ALWAYS been value-conscious : but they act on that consciousness in different ways according to their knowledge and upbringing. 

Matthew Lonsdale, Partner, Those gospel people again... - September 12, 2002
 For developed contries such as Singapore (where I live), all of us have a minimum expectation from the products we buy. However, technology has moved so fast that more and more products have met all our minimum requirements. Hence, if branding was just to function as a means to help users identify high quality items as compared to others, then branding has met its shelf life. But if branding continues to evolve to enhance the consumer experience and provide an avenue for emotional expression, then branding still has lots of bite to offer. 
Lau Kong Cheen, Branding and Marketing Research Consultant - September 13, 2002
 Branded products will have a say in the market because people will try using products that come to them with hype, for various reasons. 
Nithya, Student - September 13, 2002
 Room on the shelf but to what end? As global economies change spurred on by vestigial 19th-century thinking on mass-production and consumption, we as brand managers/creators surely realize that there's little need for one market to support a multitude of laundry detergents (or any other parity product for that matter). Our most successful creations and marketing efforts bare witness through the fewer options available.

The question regarding the shelf life of a name brand barely escapes being the same side of the coin: A no-name commands 40% of a market, vestigial thinking says command 45%, invest in marketing, raise the price. Is this much different from what name brands do in the course of their life span? Except maybe in what they're willing to pay to us, the brand managers/creators.

New and emerging markets? Geographically, is there really anywhere left that's new? Too, I'd be amazed if there's any further demographic or psychographic delineation to be had. Let's face it, we got here way too fast for our own good. The pros and cons of shelf life for no-names vs. names skirts the issue that at the beginning of the 21st century we may be realizing that (consumption) growth like this can't be sustained indefinitely. So in turn, what may be needed for us, the brand marketers/creators is a new way of thinking appropriate to the 21st century not the 19th. Honestly, I don't know what that looks or can look like. After dining on caviar, fish eggs don't seem as interesting. I know only this: we need to think of something fast lest we put ourselves out of business. Unless of course we're content to secure our own present interests. 

Michael Lawrence, Designer, Free lance - September 13, 2002
 This would have to be the strangest debate so far - both no names and branded products will coexist (the share will scale up and down on each side until it finds a happy medium) - Why? because at home (when the neighbours can't see us) we'll consume no names, then when in the public arena we'll consume branded products. I do it, we all do it! Further, Australia like Europe sees a large percentage of upper class consumption of no names, but we also see those in lower incomes (but with actually higher disposable income due no or lower debts) consume the most branded products (case in point; visit any public housing area). Two facts down here and it's time the marketeers woke up and smelt the roses to how it all works! 
Gary Hunt - September 16, 2002
 First and foremost the product has to be good, and its brand has to SAY THE TRUTH. Otherwise we will not believe. Maybe will buy once, but not twice.

As for the life on a shelf, one will support the other, always. There will be smaller space for name-brands, and wouldn't be surprised to have only 5 brands dominating an entire supermarket. 

Lorena, Designer & Housewife - September 18, 2002
 We buy private labels, name-brands buy us!! None can disappear, it's the circle of shelf life!!! 
supermarket lover - September 18, 2002
 Strong Brands exist in the minds of people because of an ongoing effort made by marketing people. What would be of a product without a brand, without a distinctive name and appeal? Private Brands are only a choice being offered to the public. They have their importance. Private brands will always exist. Without them there would be no marketing, no design, no positioning, no differentiation, no market would exist. 
Paulo Granato de Araujo, designer and tecaher, designstudio-Brazil - September 19, 2002
 Private label brands imitate, they don't innovate. To the extent that consumers feel a brand doesn't offer enough value, store brands do well. Name brands succeed when they meet new consumer needs or satisfy existing needs better. Name brands can't ever relax, but must always be on and ahead of the curve. 
stephen rappaport, president, buildCapacity - September 22, 2002
 Private brand products and branded products
On the one hand we have private brand products; on the other hand we have branded products. But, between these “two hands”, there is a brain sending outputs for both of them: the meme machine, a theory from Susan Blackmore. Something like what we – actually, our genes – learn, record and play as behavior. I mean, we all live our days receiving a thousand of communication inputs trying to teach us how and what we have to drink, how and what we have to eat, how to feel, how to make sex, how we give love and all. All these inputs widely and hardly showed on TV, outdoors, magazines, books, radio, pictures, parents, friends and ordinary people, 24 hours a day, every-every day. It’s something such as an invisible law that, first at all, codifies our desires and fears. Therefore, we all human beings re-codify this and, after that, start a “personal” process. Actually, it is our own background. Within these re-codified actions is our consumer behavior. It seems to be like something without feeling and spiritual values. But, we believe or not, that’s the way we live. Moreover, meme machine is our own commander-in-chief inside our brain.

Sounds strange, but it’s very simple, generation after generation. What I’m trying to say is: “All that we buy [services and products] is a branded-product, even though as a private brand one”. Actually, we can’t forget this: behind a private brand product there is a strong brand, a profitable and consumer-oriented company, such as supermarkets like Carrefour, Bompreço, Wal-Mart and others. It all represents strong brands in our minds. Therefore, even we buy “private brand” product, actually, what we are doing is having a relationship with a knowledge brand for our own memes in our brain. So, definitely, we need a familiar brand to start a relationship. Matter of fact, either private brand or branded products have brands. 

Lucas COMPAN, ceo, GOAL Marketing Communication - September 22, 2002
 In Canada, the huge Loblaws grocery chain has opted for both approaches - their original 'no name' brand (they even registered the term 'no name') for value-conscious shoppers, and then created a high-end line, President's Choice, which competes more directly with branded merchandise. Similarly, Shoppers Drug Mart sell their Life brand generic OTC products in packaging colour-coded to match the brand leaders - there hasn't been a lawsuit probably because they are the largest distribution channel in the country. 
AJ Kandy, Design Coordinator, Interstar Technologies, Inc. - September 23, 2002
 this is a topic for durable goods as well as packaged goods 
Rosanne H. Miller, Global Brand Manager, DuPont Surfaces for Corian(R) and Zodiaq(R) - September 23, 2002
 As long as Maslow's Heirarchy Model exists so will the 'brands' - cause the private labels will only be satisfying the basic needs of consumers - however if the concept of an emotional connect with the consumer didn't exist some of the strongest brand of the world would not have been created. Therefore - on the one hand private labels will squeeze out the in-effecient/over-valued brands, the stronger brands that 'justify' their price premium in the consumer's mind will continue to grow and flourish - on the strong backing of a strong emotional relationship with the consumer attributed to strong brand building activities. 
Utkarsh Saxena, Brand Management Student, MICA, India. - September 24, 2002
 If I was a brand-owner, I’d be very worried by that!! Maslow’s Hierarchy has only been around for a few decades, and is already looking decidedly rusty as a Psychological Model.

(I’m also very far from sure that PL’s only satisfy the bottom needs on the pyramid. For instance, the ‘Esteem’ needs figure pretty highly up the Hierarchy, and as many have noted here, there is a certain esteem-based satisfaction for many PL buyers in having spotted a ‘sharp deal’).

Maybe it’s time to create a new Hierarchy that can better explain these complex and contradicting Private Label needs?! 

Matthew Lonsdale, Partner, - September 25, 2002
 The 'own brand' (Tesco in the UK refuse to allow it to be referred to as own label) companies will have to spend roughly 1% of the marketing and promotional budgets of the name brands. The reason is very simple. They won't need to promote individual lines, they will grow their master brand through price and overall service experience. OK I exaggerate to make a point, but it will be orders of magnitude less. However this doesn't mean that named brands will die out, as the retailers need them to create value in the market, and consumers will never put all their free range eggs in one shopping basket. And don't forget one final important ingredient, customers like brands (just as well really or we'd all be watching daytime TV). 
Dan Johnson, Head of Brand Strategy, BT - September 26, 2002
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