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A new era in retail: Private-label production by national-brand manufacturers and premium-quality private labels.

By A.M. ter Braak

Abstract

Private labels have witnessed considerable growth in grocery retailing. While existing academic studies have provided valuable insights concerning the evolution of private labels, several issues remain largely unexplored. First, in the face of these large private-label volumes, private-label production opportunities arise. Due to increased private-label competition, national-brand manufacturers increasingly pursue a dual-branding strategy and engage in private-label production next to their national-brand activities. In chapter two of this dissertation, a major motivation for national-brand manufacturers to engage in private-label production, namely whether it creates retailer goodwill, is investigated. It shows that private-label production is indeed rewarded: national-brand manufacturers involved in private-label production for a discounter have a higher likelihood of obtaining national-brand shelf presence at that discounter. The third chapter focuses on one of the main reasons why retailers push private labels, i.e. because they generate high margins, and considers how a retailer’s private-label margins vary within categories. It demonstrates that a retailer’s private-label margins depend on the nature of the private-label supplier-retailer relationship, that they differ across quality tiers and package sizes, and that they are affected by a supplier’s extent of national-brand focus next to its private-label production for the retailer. Finally, this dissertation concentrates on the recent premium private-label trend. Even though premium private labels are seen as “one of the hottest trends in retailing,” retailers are selective in picking their battles with top-quality national brands and do not feel the need to extend their standard private label with a premium private label in every category. The fourth chapter provides insight into why retailers offer premium private labels in some categories, but not in others. The research presented in this dissertation is among the first to empirically investigate the phenomenon of private-label production, and to shed light on the recent trend of premium private labels.

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