Member Exclusive   //   April 18, 2022

Modern Retail Research: Traditional brands had a blockbuster 2021 and believe the momentum will continue

According to recent Modern Retail data, traditional brands saw solid growth in 2021.

Modern Retail surveyed brands and retailers about their financial performances over the last year along with what they expect to see in the year to come. More than two-thirds of the self-described traditional brands, as opposed to those that consider themselves primarily direct, said they saw increased revenue from a variety of channels.

While not necessarily surprising, it does give some context on how traditional retailers and brands performed in 2021. Some of the largest traditional retailers saw large year-over-year gains last year. Nike’s fiscal year 2021 (which ended in May, 2021) revenue was up 19% year-over-year. Target, meanwhile, reported comparable sales growth of 12.7% year-over-year for 2021.

According to the traditional brands we surveyed, 76% reported wholesale revenue increases over the last year. What’s more, 71% of these same brands said direct revenue went up as well.

Indeed, businesses of all types saw big gains in 2021. Retail sales as a whole grew 14% last year.

Still, some brands didn’t see the same results. According to earlier Modern Retail research that surveyed 88 self-described direct brands, only 54% saw their direct revenue increase — and 48% reported wholesale revenue gains. Meanwhile, 59% these same direct brands we surveyed said they’d upped their marketing budgets.

According to the traditional brands we queried, only 55% said they boosted their marketing spending.

Looking ahead, the traditional brands also have high hopes for the year to come. Eighty-five percent said they expect direct retail revenue to go up, and 76% believe wholesale will also see a bump. Meanwhile, 76% said they plan on increasing their marketing budget in 2022.

While these brands may have rosy outlooks, reality may make things more difficult. Inflation continues to rise, which means that some brands are increasing their prices. Whether or not that will impact 2022 outlooks remains to be seen.