Retailers Replacing Big Names With House Brands

Some brand-name products disappear from store shelves

As shoppers look for bigger bargains, some big retailers are making room for their house brands by removing brand-name products.

Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens are among those reported to be cutting back. Retail analysts report some Glad and Hefty brand storage bags have been replaced at Walmart with the company's own Great Value Brand.

"They're really pushing house brands, particularly for what we might call commodities," said Bernard Weinstein of Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. "And the reality is, in the current recession, nobody really cares what kind of toilet paper they're using. The stores that do have house brands, they love that, because they generally make more money on their house brands then they do on proprietary brands."

Weinstein said he wasn't surprised that stores were cutting back on name brands.

"People don't want to have to choose between among 15 or 20 different kinds of toilet paper or paper towels or even basic food stuff," he said.

But a recent analysis in the Journal of Consumer Research found shoppers generally like more choices.

"You just get a variety, and you get to choose, and you can try different ones and pick your favorite," said Jena Whitehead, of Dallas.

And Summer Olmstead, also of Dallas, said she prefers brand name products.

"I think the quality is usually better, especially with paper towels and toilet paper," she said.

Some stores, including Kroger, say they're bucking the less is more trend.

"Our philosophy would be to give the customer a huge choice and, in fact, we're building stores even bigger today," Kroger spokesman Gary Huddleston said.

Even if a brand name does disappear from the store shelve, it can sometimes magically reappear later.

"In some cases, products that have been removed from the shelves of Walmart, let's say, have been put back on the shelves after the manufacturer goes to Walmart and says, 'Well, we'll sell it to you for a lower price or we'll do more advertising, or better yet, we'll manufacture your house brand for you,'" Weinstein said.

"I think most people who go to a Walmart or a Target aren't looking for name brands," he said. "They're looking for low prices, they're looking for basic products at a reasonable cost. This is just the latest example of Walmart and some other large retailers putting pressure on their suppliers to keep their costs down."

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