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Top brands among proprietary labels have a slightly different path to success than those produced by independent vendors because they not only have to deliver sales, but also support a retailer's strategic initiatives. And yet this unorthodox path doesn't make them any less popular. In fact, in the eyes of many consumers, proprietary brands can have advantages over national brands-- such as their affordability or even their exclusivity-- and therefore are gaining popularity and growing among the ranks of the Top Brands study.
Typically, those proprietary labels that have enjoyed heavy investment and a degree of longevity are the names most often cited by consumers. After all, any brand--whether national or proprietary--drives foot traffic into mass marketers, in part because of its reputation among consumers but also due to the ongoing marketing efforts made by the company that controls it.
Determining the top proprietary brands in retail isn't cut and dried, but a safe bet is that Martha Stewart--with about $1.2 billion in sales at Kmart--is at the forefront of the segment. Kathy Lee, Jaclyn Smith and Cherokee also are names in proprietary branding that have had a noticeable impact on consumers.
Understanding just how consumers regard proprietary brands isn't easy. Generally, proprietary brands have a strong identification with the stores where they are found, making them easy to confuse with private-label goods. On the other hand, some labels, while not strictly proprietary, are overwhelmingly represented in a single retailer in a given channel. Often, this means a portion of the program is proprietary, …