Costco vs. Coca Cola: A sign of the times?

Retail Wire panelists weighed in on the subject of the disagreement between Costco and Coca Cola on wholesale pricing. (At this writing, Costco has dropped Coke products from its stores.) Is this a sign of retailers’ greater power over national brands, and is it fair to consumers? Here’s my take:

There is little doubt that retail consolidation over the past decade has put greater pressure on brands to cooperate with (or in some cases, bow to) their key accounts. At the same time, national brands own a smaller share of a shrinking pie as large retailers put their focus on private or exclusive labels. so the power in the equation has definitely shifted toward the retailer. The Costco-Coke dustup takes it to a new level, however: At what point does the power struggle between the brand and its retail “partner” start to affect the consumer adversely?


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