The Wall Street Journal has a piece about some food stores' private label items and how they "are casting off their bland reputation and transforming themselves from dull to desirable. At Foxtrot, a fast-growing chain of trendy convenience stores, the house bourbon is handpicked by bartenders from the Violet Hour, a Chicago craft-cocktail bar, and its potato chips come in flavors like spicy dill pickle and Himalayan salt and vinegar. Online grocer Thrive Market specializes in well-priced staples like coffee and coconut milk with ethical and eco-friendly pedigrees.
"Meanwhile, Whole Foods Market rebranded its standard 365 line with a more appealing, whimsical look, and Target, a pioneer of innovative private-label brands, has doubled down on fashionable foodstuffs with Good & Gather, a line that includes both basics and not-seen-elsewhere items like Peach Bellini Fruit Spread and Brownie Batter Dessert Hummus."
The Journal explains (to people unfamiliar to the history and traditional role of private label) that this segment always has held appeal to grocers because of their higher margins; in addition, because of the plethora of retail competitors, stronger own label offerings give retailers the ability to differentiate themselves.
At least in part, store brands' evolution also can be "chalked up to the pandemic, which unraveled established shopping patterns. In the spring of 2020, Americans were faced with a sea of empty shelves; many tried store brands out of necessity. According to a September 2020 study from management consultant firm McKinsey & Company, nearly one in five shoppers said they bought more private-label products during the Covid-19 crisis than they had before. And 40% of those who switched to new brands said they were likely to continue buying them after the pandemic waned."