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Consumer Survey

Shoppers Say Quality Better, Buying Habits Will Remain

January 17, 2013

A benchmark survey conducted exclusively for PLBuyer by Consumer Science found that shoppers see the quality of private label products continuing to improve relative to national brands. More than half visit a store specifically for its brands, and they expect to buy the same or more private label products in 2013 even if the economy improves.

The data comes from a 400-member U.S. online panel surveyed by Consumer Science, a Dallas/Ft. Worth-based consumer research firm.

At its heart, the survey showed 82 percent of respondents believe that private label products are of equal quality to national brands, an 8 percent rise from last year. An additional 8 percent believe that private brands are of better quality than their CPG competitors. In a demographic breakdown, more men than women found private brands to be better quality than national brands.

Slightly less than a quarter of respondents said they visited a grocery store specifically for its private label products, a 9 percent decrease from a year ago. But more than half (52 percent) said they visited a store specifically for its brands at least some of the time.

“Males and the younger age groups are more likely to visit a store to purchase specific store brands,” the report stated.

The general outlook on the economy improved from last year, with 42 percent expecting it to stay the same, up 5 percent from a year ago, and 32 percent expecting it to worsen, down 5 percent from last year.

But even if the economy improves, an overwhelming majority say their private label buying habits are here to stay. Only 4 percent said they would buy fewer private brands if the economy improves, with 91 percent saying they would buy the same amount.

As expected, the overwhelming reason for buying private label remains price. More than three-quarters of respondents said they bought private brands because they were cheaper than national brand competitors, followed by the product only being available as a private brand (with fewer than 10 percent) and other.

“The sentiment most repeated on the ‘other’ category is that store brands are both less expensive and an equal quality to the national brand,” the report stated.

Again, large majorities (88 percent) said they bought both private label and name brand products at the store, and following previous research, 11 percent of households with less than $60,000 annual income reported buying national brands exclusively as opposed to 7 percent of households earnings more than $60,000.

“Lower income households aspire to name brand products,” the report concluded.

Among the items most often bought as national brands were cereal, toiletry items, ketchup, peanut butter, cola and chips.

The median private label basket was 30 percent, with men and younger age groups reporting larger basket percentages. The most popular destination for private label grocery products remains supermarkets at 55 percent, with about 30 percent shopping mass merchandisers.

Club stores and Aldi followed distantly with specialty stores and dollar stores a blip on the radar for grocery.

Shoppers said they visited supermarkets primarily for convenience, selection, and price. They shopped mass merchandisers for convenience and price.
There were some intriguing differences between the genders in responses, the report stated.

“Men tend to provide more dichotomous responses than females when considering store brands,” it said. “They are more likely to buy just store brands or just name brands, more likely to consider store brands higher or inferior quality to name brands, more likely to visit a store because of its store brands, and more likely to have a larger store brand basket percentage.”

Consumer Science specializes in primary consumer research. It utilizes a broad range of techniques and technology to customize research that delivers each customer the most value.

A qualified staff of researchers and moderators provide turnkey research, including study design, respondent recruitment and customized analysis and reporting.

The offerings, combining traditional interviewing techniques and the latest technology, include intercepts, one-on-one, dyads, triads, focus groups, large sensory panels, in-home test, surveys, social media monitoring, video analytics and Web analytics.

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