White Label vs Private Label – Which Path to Choose?

white label vs private label

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Strategising product offerings without manufacturing them in-house often leads businesses to two popular paths: White Label and Private Label. 

Despite their commonality in allowing companies to sell products under their own brand without manufacturing products, white labelling and private labelling do have some distinct differences and similarities.  

In this article, we will delve into the core differences and similarities between white label and private label. We will also share some factors to consider between white labelling and private labelling. 

The Definitions

What is White Labelling?

White labelling, also called white label, is a process where a manufacturer creates a generic product, which is then sold by various retailers under their own brand names. The product remains unchanged across all retailers, but the branding, packaging, and labelling are customised to each retailer’s specifications.  

For a comprehensive understanding of white labelling mechanisms, benefits, and challenges, explore our detailed article on what is white labelling. 

What do you mean by white labelling
What do you mean by private labelling

What is Private Labelling?

Private labelling, also called private label, is a process in which a manufacturer produces a product exclusively for sale under a single retailer’s brand. The retailer can alter certain product aspects (such as ingredients used, size, and colour) and is responsible for the product’s marketing and distribution.

To delve into the multifaceted world of private labelling, exploring its working, various dimensions and practical applications, immerse yourself in our comprehensive guide on what is private labelling

White Label vs Private Label - What's the Difference?

Differences between white labels and private labels

Understanding the distinctions between a white-label product and a private-label product is crucial for retailers to strategise their product offerings effectively. Let’s explore the key differences between white labelling and private labelling. 

White Labelling
Private Labelling
Product Uniqueness
Provides generic products
Offers unique products
Product Customisation
Offers standard, non customisable products
Allows detailed product customisation
Brand Exclusivity and Brand Identity
Sells non-exclusive, widely available products and has less impact on brand identity
Sells products exclusively and enhances brand identity
Pricing Strategy
Necessitates a competitive pricing strategy
Can implement premium pricing
Market Approach
Requires additional marketing efforts and USPs
Can target niche markets
Quality Control
Limited or no control over product quality
Limited or no control over product quality
Investment and ROI
Requires lower upfront costs but yields lower ROI
Requires higher upfront investment but can yield higher ROI
Consumer Perception
Often perceived as standard
Perceived as higher value
Legal and Compliance
Has quicker and simpler legal and compliance processes
Might involve additional legal and compliance considerations
Ownership and Control
Provides no control or ownership over the product
Allows the exercising of ownership and control over the product
Target Market
May appeal to a wider, less specific audience
Can cater to specific market needs
Inventory Commitment
Offers flexibility in order quantities and inventory management
Requires larger inventory commitments and storage space

Product Uniqueness

Private label manufacturer enable retailers to offer unique products, enhancing competitive advantage and market differentiation.

In contrast, white label manufacturer provide generic products, limiting market differentiation and competitive advantage as multiple retailers sell identical products.

Product Customisation

Private labelling allows businesses to tailor products to meet specific customer needs and preferences, offering a unique selling proposition (USP) in the market. For instance, a retailer might collaborate with a manufacturer to create a skincare product with a unique formula, scent, and packaging that aligns with their brand ethos and appeals to their target demographic.

Conversely, white labelling offers no such customisation. It provides a one-size-fits-all solution, where a generic product is created by a manufacturer and sold by various retailers, limiting the ability to offer a unique product in the market.

Brand Exclusivity and Brand Identity

Private label products are developed and sold exclusively by one retailer, offering a unique product that can’t be found elsewhere. This exclusivity can enhance brand loyalty and allow for premium pricing strategies. 

White label products are generic products that are available to multiple retailers. This potentially leads to market saturation and pricing competition, as the same product is available under different brand names. 

Pricing Strategy

Private label products allow retailers to implement a pricing strategy to position the products as premium offerings, potentially attracting a specific market segment and increasing profit margins.

In contrast, white label products, being available across multiple businesses, necessitate a competitive pricing strategy to attract consumers, potentially reducing profit margins.  

Market Approach and Positioning

Private label products can be positioned and marketed as exclusive offerings, enabling retailers to target specific customer segments and create niche markets. 

White label products require additional marketing efforts and USPs to differentiate them from similar products sold by competitors. 

Quality Control and Product Development

Businesses engaging in private labelling often have a significant say in product development, quality control, and manufacturing processes, ensuring the final product aligns with their brand standards and customer expectations. 

White labelling, however, does not provide this level of control or involvement in product development, as businesses sell pre-made, generic products.

Investment and ROI

Private label companies require a higher upfront investment due to product development, customisation and exclusive manufacturing. However, they can yield higher ROI (Return on investment) due to product exclusivity and potential premium pricing.  

On the other hand, white label companies, while requiring lower upfront costs and featuring reduced financial risk, will yield lower ROI due to the non-exclusivity of the product and potential pricing competition.

Consumer Perception

Due to their exclusivity and potential for premium positioning, consumers perceive private label brands as having higher value or quality. 

Conversely, white label brands, being more generic and widely available, are perceived as standard offerings without a distinct value proposition.

Legal and Compliance Aspects

White labelling has quicker and simpler legal and compliance processes, as the generic product has already been developed and approved for sale. 

Private labelling might involve additional legal and compliance considerations, especially if the product is significantly customised or altered. This can even lead to further expenses, adding to the initial investments. 

Ownership and Control

Private labelling allows the exercising of ownership and control over the product, from its conception and development to its manufacturing and marketing. 

White labelling, however, provides no control or ownership over the product, limiting the ability to manage product quality, features, or production processes.

Target Market

Private labelling enables retailers to develop products that cater specifically to their target market, addressing unique needs and preferences. 

White labelling, offering the same product, might appeal to a broader audience without addressing specific needs or preferences, potentially limiting market impact.

Inventory Commitment

Private labelling businesses require larger inventory commitments and storage space due to minimum order quantities imposed by private label manufacturers. 

White labelling features more flexibility in order quantities, allowing white labelling businesses to manage inventory more efficiently and reduce storage needs. 

Private Label vs White Label - Unveiling the Similarities

List of nine similarities between white label and private label

Navigating the retail landscape, a private label and white label business model often intertwine, sharing notable similarities that appeal to businesses. Let’s examine these common grounds to understand the shared advantages and considerations of private labelling and white labelling in a retail strategy.

Use of Third-Party Manufacturers

Both private and white label solutions pivot on utilising third-party manufacturers, eliminating the need for businesses to establish their own manufacturing units. This curtails the substantial investment in setting up production facilities and mitigates the risks associated with manufacturing. 

Brand Labelling

In both white and private labelling, retailers can market the products under their brand name despite not being involved in the manufacturing process. 

Swift Market Entry

White and private labelling serve as catalysts for businesses to introduce new products to the market with reduced lead times. 

By leveraging existing products and formulations from manufacturers, retailers can swiftly expand their product line or enter new markets without the typical timelines of in-house product development. This enables businesses to respond promptly to market trends and consumer demands, ensuring product availability and competitive agility.


Both strategies are inherently cost-effective, allowing businesses to offer products without incurring the extensive costs associated with product development, testing, and manufacturing. 

This financial efficiency enables businesses, especially startups and SMEs, to expand their product offerings and penetrate markets with minimised financial risks and capital expenditure.

Consumer Experience and Marketing Focus

Private and white labelling allows businesses to sculpt the consumer experience and concentrate on marketing and customer relationship management. 

Since the manufacturing is handled externally, retailers can channel their resources and efforts towards crafting marketing strategies, customer engagement, and brand-building activities. Doing so ensures that the consumer interacts and builds a relationship with the retailer’s brand, not the manufacturer.


Scalability is a shared advantage in both white and private labelling. Retailers can seamlessly expand their product offerings, explore new markets, and scale their operations without investing in manufacturing capabilities. 

Retailer-Manufacturer Relationship

The symbiotic relationship between retailers and manufacturers in white and private labelling underscores a mutual benefit, each party capitalising on the other’s expertise.

For manufacturers, this relationship provides a direct channel to the market without the need to build and maintain a retail operation or consumer-facing brand. They can focus on what they do best: producing quality products while enjoying steady demand from retailers. 

On the other hand, retailers benefit by significantly expanding their product offerings without the substantial investment and risk inherent in manufacturing. They can swiftly respond to market trends, introduce new products, and cater to consumer demands without the logistical and financial burdens of production.

Thus, each entity thrives, minimising its risks and maximising its operational efficiency and profitability.

Creation of New Business Opportunities

Both strategies pave the way for creating new business opportunities, enabling companies to explore and penetrate markets through a reseller framework. 

Absence of Trademarks and B2B Business Model

In both white label and private label business models, manufacturers relinquish any trademarks over the products once the deal is sealed. In other words, manufacturers don’t have exclusive rights to the product’s branding once it’s sold to retailers. The products are sold under the retailer’s brand, making them the face of the product to the end consumer.  

Operating on a B2B model, both white and private labelling facilitate a scenario where manufacturers and retailers each focus on their core competencies – production and marketing, respectively, ensuring efficient market delivery and consumer engagement without the need for comprehensive in-house capabilities.

How to Choose Between White Labelling and Private Labelling?

Nine factors to consider while choosing between white labelling and private labelling

White labelling and private labelling, while seemingly straightforward, embed intricate considerations that weave into the fabric of your business’s operational, financial, and marketing spheres. Let’s navigate through the essential factors that will steer this significant choice, ensuring your sails are set towards a horizon that mirrors your business aspirations.

The Status of Your Business

Whether a startup carving a niche or an established entity exploring diversification, the choice between white and private labelling should resonate with your current business status and future aspirations. 

Startups should lean towards white labelling as it offers a streamlined entry into the market without the complexities of product development. 

Established businesses with a stable customer base should explore private labelling to introduce exclusive, premium products, further solidifying their market presence.

Business Objectives and Vision

Aligning your choice between white and private labelling with your business objectives and vision is paramount. 

If your vision is to create a unique, stand-out brand with exclusive product offerings, private labelling might be the route to take. 

Conversely, white labelling could be the apt choice if your objective is to diversify your product range without substantial investments quickly.

Investment Capacity

Your financial money plays a crucial role in determining the labelling approach. Consider not only the immediate financial outlay but also the potential ROI and long-term financial implications of your choice. 

Private labelling, while demanding a higher initial investment, can potentially yield lucrative returns through product exclusivity and premium pricing. 

White labelling, with its lower upfront costs, provides a financially safe yet potentially less profitable venture due to product commonality in the market.

However, businesses opting for white labelling should factor in the potential for reduced profit margins due to the competitive pricing prevalent in markets with multiple retailers offering the same product.

Market Dynamics and Consumer Demand

Understanding and adeptly responding to market dynamics and consumer demand necessitates a data-driven approach. Employ market research, consumer feedback, and trend analysis to ensure your choice between white and private labelling aligns with current and anticipated market demands. 

If the market demands unique, specialised products and your business can cater to this through customisation, private labelling might be beneficial. 

However, if the market is saturated and highly competitive, white labelling might offer a quicker and less resource-intensive way to introduce new products.

Brand Building and Identity

If establishing a strong, unique brand identity is at the forefront of your business strategy, private labelling offers the exclusivity and customisation to achieve this. For example, businesses aiming to create a distinct market position with exclusive products, like a skincare line with a unique formulation, might lean towards private labelling. 

On the other hand, white labelling, while providing a streamlined pathway to diversify product offerings, presents a different set of challenges and opportunities in brand building. The generic products available to multiple retailers might not offer the same depth of exclusivity and uniqueness. 

Businesses opting for white labelling can still carve out a brand identity by ensuring that marketing strategies, customer service, and product selection are in stringent alignment with their brand ethos, thereby creating a cohesive customer experience.

Control Over Product Development

Your desire for control over product development also influences the choice between private-label products and white-label products.  

Private labelling allows for direct involvement in product formulation, design, and quality control, ensuring it aligns with your brand standards. 

In contrast, white labelling relinquishes this control, providing pre-made products to be marketed under your brand.

Speed to Market

If speed to market is a priority, white labelling is the preferred way to go. 

White labelling allows for rapid product launches without the time-consuming process of development and regulatory approvals. Businesses looking to capitalise on emerging market trends quickly will find white labelling to be an expedient path. 

On the other hand, private labelling, while offering the allure of exclusivity and control, necessitates a more extensive timeline from concept to launch. The journey involves product development, testing, regulatory approvals, and manufacturing setup, all of which are time-intensive.

Especially in markets driven by trends, such as tech or fashion, the ability to launch a product swiftly through white labelling can be a pivotal advantage.

Risk Tolerance

Consider your risk tolerance, especially pertaining to financial and operational aspects. 

Private labelling comes with higher financial risk due to product development and manufacturing investment. White labelling, with its lower upfront costs and minimise production risks, will be suitable for businesses with a lower risk tolerance.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

When choosing between private and white labelling strategies, the legal and compliance of products is an extremely crucial factor. 

Navigating through legal and compliance aspects is more intricate with private labelling, especially if products are heavily customised. 

White label provider offering pre-approved, generic products often simplify the compliance process, making it a less cumbersome option for businesses wary of legal complexities.

Final Thoughts

In summary, both white-label and private-label products are a smart way to expand your product lines. However, understanding the differences between white label and private label is essential when deciding on which one to use for your business. 

While white labelling offers a convenient, cost-effective way to diversify your offerings, it may not provide the unique brand identity that private labelling can. Conversely, private labelling allows for a tailored, exclusive product line, albeit often at a higher cost and with a more involved process. 

Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of each approach and make an informed decision that aligns with your business objectives.

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading! 

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