Sunday, May 23, 2010

Generic Brand

Generic brands of consumer products (often supermarket goods) are distinguished by the absence of a brand name. It is often inaccurate to describe these products as "lacking a brand name", as they usually are branded, albeit with either the brand of the store in which they are sold or a lesser-known brand name which may not be aggressively advertised to the public. They are identified more by product characteristics.

They may be manufactured by less prominent companies, or manufactured on the same production line as a 'named' brand. Generic brands are usually priced below those products sold by supermarkets under their own brand (frequently referred to as "store brands" or "own brands"). Generally they imitate these more expensive brands, competing on price. Generic brand products are often of equal quality as a branded product, however, the quality may change suddenly in either direction with no change in the packaging if the supplier for the product changes.

In the early 1980s, generic products in the United States had plain white labels with blue or black lettering describing the product in simple terms - "Yellow Cake Mix", "Tuna In Water", "Chocolate Flavor Syrup", "Deodorant Soap" - with only ingredients and preparation details as appropriate. This was during a sharp economic downturn when many consumers were placing more emphasis on value than on brand loyalty. In the U.S. industrial Midwest, a region especially hard hit by the recession, generics became a common sight in supermarkets and discount stores.

In the mid-1970s Al Williams, a former private label product lines manager at Albertsons Stores in Boise Idaho, left his employer and started a Private Label consulting business by the name of Keynote Marketing. He created 20 No-Name Generic products all under a plain white label and introduced them into to several grocery chains across the United States, including Skaggs-Albertson in Texas and Smith's Food King. After initial introduction, several large chain stores started introducing various white labeled products that were available from various manufacturers until they created their own chain specific No-Name Generics. Later as the major grocery chains created their own No-Name Generics, his business grew as Keynote Marketing expanded their sales offices into other cities and concentrated on the independent distributors and smaller grocery chains.

Jewel Companies is often credited with selling the first supermarket Generic Brand product line in 1977 - no name or pictures on the packaging - only what the contents are, a UPC code, and the required product information in a white package with an avocado-green stripe. These first generics even cut out such extras such as the flip top on soda cans, requiring a can opener to open them.

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