Private Brands are back!

Combat between manufacturer and private brands in the same product categories is as much a feature of modern marketing as combat among manufacturer brands. Now the battle between manufacturer and private brands has taken a new turn. Strong brand names and private labels, originally confined mainly to packaged-goods businesses, have become immensely important in the fashion industry. The reactions of retailers and manufacturers have implications that transcend the boundaries of the soft-goods trade.

Ralph Lauren, Benetton, and Liz Claiborne are now brands as well as fashions. Brands once associated only with function like Jockey underwear and Sperry Top-Siders also have introduced style and color into their products and now stand for fashion as well as function.

The ascension of manufacturer brands in the fashion world has stimulated other important developments. Ralph Lauren and Coach, and a number of European retailers including Burberry, Benetton, and Laura Ashley, have opened their own or franchised stores that sell only merchandise of their own labels.

Meanwhile, a Slice Intelligence study showed that sales by Lark & Ro, the top-selling Amazon-owned fashion line, pale in comparison to online sales of store fashion brands sold by other retailers including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Costco.

For instance, Nordstrom’s Halogen women’s apparel line’s online sales were 11 times those of Lark & Ro in the 14 months through February, according to a Slice study of online receipts. The study also showed that ecommerce sales for the majority of Macy’s store brands have surpassed those of Lark & Ro, with Macy’s Alfani generating over nine times the revenue.

However, if Amazon’s track record is any indicator, its private-label fashion growth may have only just gotten started.

To be sure, Amazon’s private-label fashion business still has a long way to go before it becomes a more meaningful part of the company’s sales. Within its private-label portfolio, clothing represented only 1% of first-half sales, compared with with a 55% share for electronics, according to 1010data.

Here are the four new private label brands that Target will be introducing.

  • A New Day — This private label brand will offer clothes for women that can be used on any occasion.
  • Goodfellow & Co. — TGT will be offering a line of clothing, shoes and accessories for men.
  • JoyLab — This brand will be made up of athletic wear that will also be good for leisure.
  • Project 62 — The retailer is calling this a “modern home brand” that will focus on items for daily use.

The new private label brands from Target will show up this Fall. The company also says that it will be phasing out the Merona and Mossimo lines because they have grown too large and uniform to attract shoppers. TGT will also be making other changing to its stores in an effort to attract shoppers.

“One new brand on its own isn’t going to change the way guests experience Target, though we definitely believe each of our exclusive brands will leave its mark,” Target CMO Mark Tritton told CNBC.

Target’s decision to introduce new private label brands are part of its effort to bring back more customers. It sales last year were down by 5.9% and same store sales were down by 1.9%. This effort will include the introduction of a total of 12 new brands, as well as the company reinventing some of its other brands to better appeal to its customers, notes.

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