Large retailers -- including Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), the world's biggest -- are wrestling with having too many types of brand-name products. At the same time, shoppers are buying less and looking for bargains.
So unless a particular brand is a top seller in its category, it's getting knocked off the shelf -- and sometimes getting replaced by a cheaper store brand.
Well then...before the crunch, buying knock-off brands sort of carried a stigma. Generics were seen as inferior, and their buyers cheapskates. What a difference the greatest downturn since the Great Depression makes. Now knock-offs are in such demand name brands are exiting stage left. Did you think you'd see the day when building a better mousetrap killed both the mouse and your product?
I remember how fashionable it was to brandish the labels on brand name items (and not just among glassy-eyed mallbots). Especially on slop like Gucci and Burberry. But now with the economy sputtering and consumers foraging for generics, displaying the label of a pricier brand will just be a signal you're one of the few left with cash. Fitting that that more expensive label will say Target.
Pretty soon Wal-Mart will be America's biggest employer and its most popular brand name. If Wal-Mart becomes any more powerful, employees are going to start wearing shirts that say: "Taxation without representation."