A New Generation of Brands

The ‘80s, ‘90s, and early ‘00s were a time of big brands. Guess, Swatch, Atari, IBM, and Abercrombie & Fitch certainly come to mind.  Even today, big brands still have a stronghold on the marketplace, but smaller brands, unfamiliar brands, and quick-growth popularity brands are much more prevalent than they were back then. With the rapid growth and evolution of Amazon over the past 10 years, the world of brands as we know it has been changed forever – especially for retail brands. 

We know the bleak impact of Amazon on retail giants like Sears, Toys-R-Us, Best Buy, and Macy’s.  Not every retail player, however, is rolling over to the new way of life.  Big-time retailers are playing to their differences and re-creating the wheel that has worked for them for decades by building their own private-label brands and evolving how consumers see them – and what they represent in society. 

In 2018,Target launched 8 new private-label brands to accompany their strong foundation of brands such as Room Essentials, Archer Farms, Smartly and Wine Cube.  Currently, mass retailer giant Kroger (and its portfolio of various named stores) carries more than 10 private-label brands like Simple Truth, Comforts and Private Selection that frequent shoppers may be surprised that they’re directly associated with the retailer.  

With Millennials projected to take over as the largest cohort in America this year, their purchase behaviors have immense influence on brands.  And, for private label, it’s a good thing for them.  According to Forbes’ ‘Are Milliennials Killing Brand Names’, corporations are now working to attract this value-seeking generation.  And, the president of ‘My Private Brand’ website, Christopher Durham, who has studied private brands for decades, has stated that there’s a shift as a pure value play for private label to a megatrend around Millennials and the way they shop.

77% of Millennials say they don’t want to buy the products their parents did, and 88% think private label is just as good according to the National Retail Federation. Brand’s transparency and authenticity means more today to this significant purchasing generation than a name, and private labels are able to achieve that. Typically, the label’s packaging will highlight a desired quality – organic, gluten-free, natural, etc. – which magnetizes millennials even more.   

Catchy taglines alone won’t cut it with this generation, and media fragmentation demands savvy approaches to reach them. The ability of the private label brands to adhere to the aforementioned lifestyle values is a buoy keeping them afloat in Amazon’s flood of dominance.

Only time will tell if the brands of yesterday will stick around to be the brands of tomorrow. One thing that’s undisputable: all brands need to learn from each other. Those who learn and evolve, as has been the case in nature since the dawn of time, will have the best chance of survival.

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