Are brands and own label really at war?

Recent figures from Kantar show that own-label sales rose 9.3% in 2022 proof that earlier research is correct – many people tried own label products during Covid because their favourite brands were often missing. And some were just looking to experiment, behaviour brought on by having more time on their hands at home. And now it seems many have not gone back.

Accepting the argument that a broad mix of brands and own labels is essential to giving consumers choice, and therefore that both parties are united around a common purpose, the surge in sales of some own labels has not been good news for some brands.

As the Grocer shows, overall brands have grown value by just 0.6%. Only 46 of the top 100 have grown, and only 20 in double digits. Even brands that are regarded as a safe haven for worried consumers did not all perform as Kraft has discovered as it tries to revive some of its core brands.

An obvious fix that the brands can get on with right now is the very one that has seemed so hard to solve for so long, namely availability, and central to Kraft’s strategy is working with retailers to fix that. And that depends on data. Take Retail Insight for instance, which uses cognitive technology to digitise in-store execution, so that the causes of bad availability are spotted immediately and fixed. And that might be all the way back into the supply chain which is often the last bit of the organisation to be told there is a problem.

So brands are getting their act together, but it seems so are retailers whose primary objective is to fix availability of the brands customers love rather than trying to displace them with own label. What this should mean is both parties can collaborate rather than go head to head, so everyone benefits, raising the category and going for market share.

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