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What is the Difference Between OEM and Private Label Equipment and Supplies?

 OEM and Private Label

You have probably talked to life science equipment and consumable manufacturers before and they have used terms like Branded, Private Label, White Label, and OEM. Some salespeople use these terms interchangeably but there is a distinct difference in how the products are sourced and provided.  Whether you are trying to source a heating block to warm a microcentrifuge tube or trying to source the tube itself in bulk quantities, it is important to be familiar with these terms and the implications.


A Branded Consumable or piece of equipment has the manufacturer’s brand on the item and is readily available for sale in the manufacturer’s catalog.  Some manufacturers do not build everything they supply so these branded items can be made by the manufacturer, sourced, or contract manufactured. It really depends on the capabilities of the manufacturer and operating costs.   

Private Label

A Private Label piece of equipment is a device that is currently in the manufactures’ product portfolio, and it will require new labeling for a specific customer. A common example would be a relabeled pipette or heating block.  What is interesting is that a lot of private label products are not produced by the manufacturer but sourced, relabeled, and resold as private label. It is important to try and find the actual source of the product to try and negotiate the best terms and mitigate any supply chain risks. 

White Label

White Label products are products that are produced sans label and can be relabeled by customers or sold unlabeled for a variety of applications.  This product is basically the same as a private label product but supplied with no label or a blank label.  Sometimes there is an area on the product that is easy to apply a label for this purpose. 

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

An OEM device or consumable is different than the three previous items because it has been specifically designed or altered to meet the customer requirements. Sometimes the design will be based on a product already in the manufacturer’s portfolio or the product will be designed from scratch if there is not a predicate device available. For example, if you require a qPCR device for your assay, but you need a software change to run the assay, then this would be considered an OEM device because it differs from the branded device.  Where if all you need is a qPCR system to sell with your assay with your brand on the device, then you can consider the private label option. 

What about the Price?

One of the most frequent questions is, ”How does labeling and designing impact the product pricing?” Pricing may vary depending on what manufacturer you are dealing with but the closer to the source of the product, typically the better the pricing as overhead is reduced.  Private Label pricing usually depends on quantities as economies of scale come into play.  The Private label price might be slightly more than what would be charged to a distributor for the branded item because of additional labor required to supply the label. Sometimes Private Label pricing can be less if it is a competitive bid situation. OEM devices may have a design fee and sometimes this fee can be reduced or waived depending on the size and scope of the project. It is best to find a few sources for a device or consumable so that a price comparison can be performed.  If you have any questions about your project, do not hesitate to call or email us to begin the process.  We would be happy to send our standard NDA or review your teams’ legal requirements.     

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