Sales of store brands have seen continuing growth in the mass retail channel, which includes mass merchandisers, club and dollar store channels. The channel now leads supermarkets as well as drug chains for private label market share in dollars as well as in units. The growth lead is even more pronounced when it comes to units. The same Nielsen data show that store brands volume climbed by 33.2%, while the national brands inched ahead by less than 1%.
The gains in dollar and unit sales are generating significant market share increases for retailer brands in the mass channel as a result. Unit market share climbed to 23.2% in 2018, up from 18.5% in 2013. Meanwhile dollar market share advanced to 19.3% in 2018, up from 15.5% in 2013.
Moreover, this impressive growth for private label shows no sign of slowing. In 2018, private label dollar sales advanced to 9.8% and unit volume gained +10.6%. In contrast, national brands were flat in dollar volume and gave up -1.3% in units.
This trend is especially significant since the mass channel is also growing faster than traditional supermarkets. Over the past five years dollar volume for the mass channel has climbed 12.6%, while unit volume was up 6.4%. Total sales in the mass channel has reached $314 billion versus $330 billion in supermarkets.
The success of store brands in the mass channel is posing a big challenge for national brands – a challenge that was clearly spelled out by Warren Buffett, a big investor in Kraft Heinz. In a recent interview with CNBC, he said the marketing colossus of well-known national brands had 2018 sales of only $26 billion compared with the $39 billionin sales posted by Kirkland, the private label of Costco, the leading warehouse club.
Private label’s performance in the mass channel for 2018 nudged Nielsen’s store brands figures to positive territory across all outlets combined, despite a lackluster showing for the year in supermarkets and drug stores. For total outlets, dollar sales for store brands was up +1.7% and unit volume was up 0.4%.
Correspondingly, store brands dollar market share in all outlets gained half a point, up to 18.5%, while unit share increased 0.6 points to 22.3%.
During 2018, store brands sales across all outlets measured by Nielsen came in at $128.6 billion, up from $123.1 billion, while units moved up to 46.2 billion from 44.8 billion.