Consumer / Market Trends
Private labels devour market share of Big Brands
MUMBAI, Aug 14, 2013
Brands owned by big retailers such as Future Group and Reliance Retail account for more than three-fourths of food products sold in modern trade in the country as consumers increasingly prefer lower-priced products to national brands.
According to market researcher Nielsen, if all private labels of Indian retailers are put under one roof then it would be the third-largest FMCG supplier in modern trade. “Private labels offer a good way of economising without compromising quality,” Adrian Terron, executive director at Nielsen, says.
“However, this also means that shoppers are moving away from the traditional list of loyal brands, and are willing to experiment with different brands in certain categories. This signals a new competitive force for manufacturer brands,” he adds.
This trend could spell trouble for packaged food makers such as Hindustan Unilever, Britannia, Nestle and ITC in the long run as they are increasingly betting on modern retail to drive their future growth, especially that of premium products.
Nielsen estimates that private labels have gained traction particularly in categories where shoppers perceive minimal tangible difference between private label and manufacturer brands. Nielsen’s Terron says shopping is becoming a weekend getaway for families and beyond the functional benefits of increasing choice, offers and promos, this is also leading to impulse expenses that can strain the household budget.
Nielsen estimates the spend on private labels in the country to grow five times to reach $500 million, or about Rs 3,000 crore, by 2015. Private brands already account for close to 5% of modern trade FMCG sales in India, compared with 1% in China. Modern trade, however, account for less than 10% of overall FMCG sales in the country, compared with close to 70% in China. Retailers say there’s scope for much more.
“India is under-branded and under-penetrated in many categories. It makes immense sense to build own brands to do market and category development, leading to accelerating consumption,” says Devendra Chawla, president (Food Bazaar) at the country’s largest retailer Future Group. In its Big Bazaar outlets private labels are among the best-sellers in more than a dozen product segments.
In other retail chains such as Aditya Birla Retail’s More and Spencer’s Retail, private labels outsell national brands in a few categories, especially in the food and homecare segments. Private labels are mostly priced lower than branded products because of substantial marketing and distribution savings.
Retailers make up for lack of media marketing through in-store promotions and prominent display. Asitava Sen, head of food and agri business research at Rabobank International, says private labels are still too small to threaten national brands. “While it is still not threatening, consumer companies should take note of the growing share of private brands,” he says.
Rabobank International estimates that private label accounts for just 0.3% market share of the Indian food and grocery market, which is covered by more than 8 million traditional food retail outlets along with a few thousand modern retail stores.
While consumer loyalty is still largely with the traditional food retailers, brands should focus on strengthening their competitive advantage, Sen says. “The longer the traditional retailers remain in business, the more difficult it will be for modern food retailers to accumulate enough scale to make private-label production worthwhile,” he adds.