The top 100 fastest-growing private-branded product sectors

Private branded wines, like these from Walmart, continue to grow in sales.

As I glanced through a list of the top 100 fastest-growing private-branded product sectors in the 2019 Store Brands' Growth 100, I thought of Carl Spackler from the 1980 film “Caddyshack.” OK, I know … you’re wondering where I could possibly be going with this (unless you’re a big “Caddyshack” fan like me.)

Let me explain: Three of the top 25 fastest-growing product sectors in the top 100 — based on information supplied by Information Resources Inc. (IRI) — are rodent and insect control products under the pest control category. Ranked 13th on the list is “multipurpose insect/rodent chemicals,” ranked 17th is “outdoor insect/rodent control chemicals” and ranked 25th is “insect/rodent control device.”

When I saw the words “rodent control” listed three times early on in the list, I immediately thought of Spackler, Bill Murray’s hilarious character from “Caddyshack,” who as a greenskeeper at the fictional Bushwood Country Club was on a mission to eradicate gophers because the burrowing rodents were destroying the golf course. Spackler, though, used something a little stronger (dynamite) to control the “varmints.” 

So, in the spirit of Spackler, all I can say is, “Freeze gopher!”

OK, back to reality. I realize that insect and rodent control chemicals may not be the most innovative of private brands, but there is clearly a need for them and private brands are carving a niche in the category. Sales of “multipurpose insect/rodent chemicals” are up more than 67% for the latest 52 weeks ending July 14, 2019, when compared to the same period last year. Sales of “outdoor insect/rodent control chemicals” are up about 60%, and sales of “insect/rodent control devices” are up 45%.

Incidentally, our Growth 100 list features product sectors and categories where private brands post dollar sales and unit sales gains of 5 percent or more and account for $5 million or more in total sales in the last year in data taken by IRI from supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries, and select club and dollar store retail chains. The list draws from food, beverage and non-food categories.

If you’re surprised about the performance of insect/rodent control products as private brands, don’t be. Last year, the No. 1 fastest-growing product segment in private brands was “multipurpose insect and rodent chemicals.” Sales were up 698% from July 15, 2017, through July 15, 2018.

While they aren’t huge categories for private brands (“outdoor insect/rodent control chemicals” is the largest at $53.7 million), they are growing and probably will continue to grow, especially as more retailers realize an opportunity for their own brands in the category. More consumers clearly trust these products, which are most likely national brand equivalents, and are probably purchasing them because they cost less than the national brands.

OK, on to some of the other fastest-growing products segments. Considering the private brands industry is on an innovation kick, you might think the top-ranked product segment on this year’s Store Brands Growth 100 list is really, really cool. But actually, it’s quite hot … as in hair dryer and curling iron hot.

The No. 1 fastest-growing product segment in private brands is … “hair appliances.” Surprised? Thought you would be.

Sales of private label “hair appliances” are up a whopping 35,824% from the previous time period with sales of about $10.7 billion. Unit sales increased 3,275%. According to IRI, the “abnormally large percentage change” is most likely the result of a retailer introducing a new private label product during the period. IRI noted that “hair appliances” is “definitely more of a new introduction to private label” than an actual “gain” versus sales from a year ago.

Could it be a burgeoning product sector? Let’s wait and see what the numbers bring next year before calling it that. “Hair appliances” could be an anomaly.

One of the biggest stories in this year’s Store Brands Growth 100 is private label “domestic table/still wine,” a product segment that continues to flourish.

Sales of store brand wine totaled more than $10.9 million, an increase of more than 110% from the previous year. In last year’s Store Brands Growth 100, sales of store brand wine increased 44% from the previous year.

More retailers continue to add store brand selections to their wine lines. Retailers such as Costco Wholesale, Trader Joe’s, Lidl, ALDI and 7-Eleven are setting a high standard by offering award-winning quality wines at very reasonable prices. Regarding the latter, get this: Last year, the average price per unit of wine was $7.62, down 34 cents from the previous year. This year, the average price is $4.80, minus $2.82 from last year.

Interestingly, despite its considerable growth, private label wine was not the top growth product sector in beverages. That honor went to “frozen drink/cocktail drink concentrate,” a more than $6 billion category that grew about 134% in sales from the previous year.

The fastest-growing food item in private brands, which ranked sixth overall on the Store Brands Growth 100 list, was “all other dried meat snacks.” According to IRI, those products include products that aren’t jerky, like processed beef sticks. Retailers can and are doing a lot in this segment, such as adding trendy flavors to beef sticks. They can also use different proteins like turkey and chicken.

IRI’s statistics show that sales of “all other dried meat snacks” are up more than 92% in the past year with sales of $27.1 million. There’s plenty of room for growth as private brands own only 4% of sales in the category.

Considering the increase in market share achieved by store brands salty snacks, it’s no surprise that “pork rinds” rank seventh on the list and second as the fastest-growing food item. Nearly a $33 billion category, “pork rinds” saw increased sales of 90.4% from the previous year. Unit sales are up 51%.

The largest product sector in the Store Brands Top 100 is “dog/cat needs,” which nearly doubled in growth the past year and is the only billion-dollar category on the list. According to IRI, sales increased 43% and now stand at about $1.1 billion. Private brands now own 41.5% of the market share in the product sector.