The Private Label Manufacturers Association announced today the induction of longtime PLMA President Brian Sharoff into the Private Label Hall of Fame. Since 2006 the Hall of Fame has recognized more than 70 individuals, including retailers, manufacturers, and marketing pioneers from all sectors of the private label industry for their career contributions to the growth and success of retailers’ brands in the U.S. and abroad.
Sharoff, who served as PLMA President since 1981, passed away unexpectedly in May of 2020. His induction on March 18, 2021, marks the first time in its history the Hall of Fame dedicates its entire annual celebration to a single individual.
In the words of Peggy Davies, who succeeded Sharoff as PLMA President: “Over the course of an extraordinary forty years, Brian Sharoff took PLMA from a relatively inconsequential group of fewer than 100 U.S. store brand manufacturers and suppliers to a thriving international trade organization with over 4,000 members on six continents, as well as organizer of two of the largest annual trade events in the world… [Sharoff] became the face of private label worldwide, driving a transformation of retailers’ store brands into a multi-billion-dollar global industry that altered the course of commercial history.”
While merchant names had been associated with their own branded products for hundreds of years, by the mid-twentieth century, mass media advertising in the U.S. and elsewhere had given rise to national brands that dominated the marketplace. The brief appearance of unbranded “generic” products in the 1970s had given many retailers a taste of private label’s potential, but consumers’ perception of the products’ quality was largely negative.
A son of Brooklyn shopkeepers, Brian was in his late 30s when he was recruited to lead a fledgling Private Label Manufacturers Association as president following three terms in the New York State legislature representing his Brooklyn neighbors, and then serving as executive vice president of a metropolitan merchant association for major department stores in New York City.
Sharoff saw an opportunity to change the dynamics of private label by emphasizing two imperatives: higher quality and the retailers’ ownership of their brands. “If you use the word private label,” he observed, “consumers and the
media would continue to ask, who makes it? But the term ‘store brands’ shifted the focus away from the manufacturer to the retailer.”
Sharoff, says Davies, “saw enormous potential for store brands evolution reaching far beyond lower-price alternatives or even mere equivalents to national brands. But he also brought to the industry-unique mastery of the powers of information, communication, focus, and commitment to the buyer-seller relationships essential to building the bridges between what is and what could be.”
The Private Label Hall of Fame is sponsored jointly by PLMA and Store Brands magazine. The March 2021 issue of Store Brands includes a special feature dedicated to Sharoff and his induction to the Hall of Fame.