Is the shift to opening-price brands a long-term trend?

It’s hard to say whether current trends like trading down to opening-price store brands will outlast the recession. It’s clear, however, that consumers are shifting from national to exclusive brands. Retailers are pushing these exclusive labels hard, in part because of the margin benefits and in part because of the added value perception of these brands. So the search for “value” (not just price) is likely to be a long-term after-effect of the recession.

In fact, the market share numbers make it clear that the search for value began long before the current recession. How else to explain the rapid growth of discounters, off-pricers, warehouse clubs and other mass merchants at the expense of traditional retailers like mall-based department stores? This trend is only going to accelerate in the future, as consumers grow even more focused on living within their means.

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