What is Private Labelling? Definition, How It Works, Examples, and Pros/Cons

What is Private Labelling?

Private labelling, often referred to as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing), is a product branding strategy where one company manufactures or supplies a product, and another company sells it under its brand. This approach offers a cost-effective way for businesses to introduce branded products without the substantial investment of manufacturing.

Here’s how private labeling works: a retailer collaborates with a manufacturer, purchasing products in bulk. The retailer then customizes the product with its branding, such as logos and packaging. The manufactured product is sold through the retailer’s distribution channels as part of their product line.

Advantages of private labeling include lower production costs, increased profit margins, more control over product quality, and flexibility in product offerings. However, it comes with potential drawbacks, including reliance on suppliers and minimum order quantity requirements.

In essence, private labeling empowers businesses to offer unique, branded products without the need for extensive in-house manufacturing.

What is a Private Label Product?

A private label product is created when one company manufactures goods, but another company sells them under its brand name. This strategy allows retailers to offer a wide range of exclusive products without the costs and complexities of manufacturing. In this process, the retailer collaborates with a manufacturer, customizes the product with its branding, and sells it through various channels.

Private label products span diverse industries, including groceries, clothing, electronics, and household items. Retailers benefit from lower production costs, increased profit margins, and more control over product quality. However, they must navigate challenges like supplier dependence and minimum order quantities. Ultimately, private label products enable businesses to expand their product lines and enhance brand identity.

Private Label Vs. White Label Product

Private labeling and white labeling are two different branding strategies. The following are the four key differences between them:

Ownership and Customization

Private-Label: In private-label products, a retailer partners with a manufacturer to create exclusive, customized goods. Retailers have control over the product’s design, features, and branding, allowing them to tailor it to their specific customer base.

White Label: White label products are generic items produced by a manufacturer and sold to various businesses. These products are not exclusive and have limited customization options, as they are typically ready-made, allowing retailers to rebrand them under their own name.


Private Label: Private-label products are highly exclusive. The customization and unique branding make it challenging for other businesses to sell identical items, providing a competitive advantage.

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White Label: White-label products are accessible to multiple businesses, allowing them to be sold under various brand names. These products lack exclusivity and may be available from different retailers.

Control Over Production

Private-Label: Retailers maintain substantial control over the production process and product quality when offering private-label items. They can closely monitor the manufacturing process to ensure it meets their standards.

White Label: With white-label products, manufacturers retain control over design and production processes, limiting retailers’ influence on these aspects. Retailers mainly focus on branding and marketing.

Customization Options

Private Label: Retailers can dictate the product’s appearance, features, and more, tailoring it to their specific market and brand identity.

White Label: White label products are pre-manufactured, restricting the extent of customization for businesses. Retailers have limited input into the product’s design and features, as they are primarily rebranding existing items.

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How Does Private Labelling Work?

Private labeling involves a brand or retailer partnering with a manufacturer to offer exclusive products under their brand name. The process works as follows:

  • The retailer establishes an agreement with a manufacturer to purchase products in bulk.
  • Collaboration with the manufacturer leads to the creation of a unique product tailored to the retailer’s specifications.
  • The retailer adds its branding elements, including logos, packaging design, and brand identity, to the product. In some cases, the manufacturer remains anonymous.
  • The retailer then sells these private-label products through their stores, websites, or other retail outlets as part of their merchandise line. This strategy enables retailers to offer customized products without the expenses and complexities of in-house manufacturing.

Advantages of Private Labelling

Private labeling offers several advantages to retailers, making it a popular strategy in the business world:

  • Lower Production Costs: Private labeling allows retailers to save on manufacturing expenses, including factory setup, labor, and product development. Buying in bulk enables negotiations for lower prices with suppliers, enhancing cost-effectiveness.
  • Increased Profits: Private label products often yield higher profit margins for retailers compared to in-house products. This increased profitability can significantly boost the retailer’s bottom line.
  • More Control: Retailers have greater control over the production process and product quality when they opt for private labeling. They can work closely with manufacturers to ensure the products meet their specific standards and requirements.
  • Flexibility: Private labeling offers flexibility in product offerings. Retailers can easily introduce new products or discontinue existing ones based on market demand without incurring significant losses. This adaptability is crucial in responding to changing customer preferences and market trends.
  • Brand Customization: Private labeling enables retailers to build a unique brand identity. By incorporating their logos, packaging designs, and other branding elements, retailers can create a distinct market presence, enhancing brand recognition and customer loyalty. This customization fosters a strong connection with consumers, driving sales and brand loyalty.

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Disadvantages of Private Labelling

While private labeling offers numerous advantages, it also comes with several disadvantages that retailers need to consider:

  • Dependence on Suppliers: Private label success is heavily reliant on suppliers. If a supplier fails to deliver quality products or faces production issues, it can significantly impact the retailer’s business. This dependence can lead to vulnerabilities in the supply chain.
  • Minimum Order Quantity: Many suppliers impose minimum order quantity requirements. Retailers may need to invest significantly in inventory before they can start selling the product, tying up capital and potentially leading to overstocking.
  • Limited Control: Private labels don’t provide retailers with complete control over the product. While they can customize branding and some aspects, suppliers still own and control the design, manufacturing process, and other elements. This limited control may hinder the retailer’s ability to respond quickly to market changes.
  • Consumer Perception: Private label products often face the perception of lower quality due to their association with cost-cutting strategies. This perception can be a challenge for retailers looking to build brand loyalty and trust.
  • Risk of Competition: As more retailers adopt private labeling, competition in this space increases. Retailers may face difficulty standing out in a crowded market, especially if their private-label products are not unique or innovative. This can affect market share and profitability.

Examples of Private Label Products

Private label products span a wide range of industries, providing retailers with opportunities to offer exclusive items under their brand name. Here are five examples of private-label products:

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Many supermarkets and retail chains offer private-label grocery products, including cereal, canned goods, and snacks. For instance, Walmart’s private label grocery brand, “Great Value,” features a diverse range of food products. These items often provide cost-effective alternatives to popular name brands.


Private-label clothing lines are common in the fashion industry. Retailers like Amazon have their private label clothing brand known as “Amazon Essentials.” These lines encompass various clothing items, including t-shirts, trousers, jackets, and shoes. Retailers can control design, quality, and branding, offering customers affordable yet stylish options.

Household Items

Household products, such as detergents, paper towels, and cleaning supplies, are frequently offered as private-label products. A well-known example is Costco’s “Kirkland Signature” line, which includes a wide array of household items. Private-label household products provide consumers with reliable and competitively priced choices.


Retailers like Best Buy have ventured into private-label electronics. They sell electronic products like LED TVs and speakers under their private label brand, “Insignia.” These items are developed with the retailer’s specifications, often providing cost-effective alternatives to well-known electronic brands.

Beauty and Personal Care

Private-label products extend to cosmetics and personal care items. Retailers work with manufacturers to create exclusive beauty products under their brands. For example, Sephora, a well-known cosmetics retailer, offers a range of private-label makeup and skincare products. This strategy allows retailers to offer unique products that cater to their target audience.

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