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Market Force Study Says 96 Percent of Consumers Buy Private Label Groceries

August 13, 2013
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Nearly all consumers buy private label products when grocery shopping, according to a new study of 6,600 consumers conducted by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Of the categories studied, dairy products were the most frequently purchased private label groceries, while snacks ranked second, and cereal and cleaning supplies tied for third.

Market Force found little change in the frequency that consumers are purchasing private label when compared with its 2011 grocery study. Price and value were given as the top two reasons for buying private label in the four categories studied.

Eighty-three percent of consumers indicated that they sometimes buy private label brands if the product is better or it offers a higher value than the national brand alternative in a particular category. Thirteen percent said that they always buy private label if one is offered in their desired product category, and only 4% are either unaware of private label products or never purchase them because they believe national brands offer a better value and product.

Most consumers are loading their carts with private label dairy products such as milk and cheese on a regular basis, according to the study findings. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they purchase private label dairy products most or some of the time, 19% said always and 5% said never.

The study also looked at new trials in the dairy category, asking consumers when they last tried a new brand of dairy product – one they had never tried before. Thirty-five percent said in the last three months, 21% said between three months and a year ago, and 44% said they could not remember the last time. Thirty percent – more than any other category studied – said the new dairy product they tried was private label, while 61% indicated it was not.

Perhaps because it can carry a high price tag, cereal is another prevalent private label grocery buy. When asked how frequently they purchase their grocer’s private label cereal, 63% said some or most of the time, 8% said always and 29% never. Private label brands have some work to do in converting consumers from national brands. In a similar study conducted my Market Force in 2011, the same number of consumers (29%) indicated they never purchase private label cereal.

Of the 71% who indicated they purchase private label cereal in the 2013 study, 76% said they do so because of the price and 47% for the value. The consumers who only buy national brand cereal primarily do so for the taste (61%) and because they have coupons for it (17%). Of those who remembered trying a new cereal brand in the past year, 27% had bought a private label brand.

More than half of respondents said that they buy private label snacks some of the time, 22% choose them most of the time and 7% always opt for private label snacks.

Nearly half could not remember the last time they tried any new snack brand, while 31% had done so in the past three months and 23% had tried a new brand between three months and year. Of those who remembered trying a new cereal brand in the past year, 29% went with a private label brand.

“It’s worth noting that in every category we studied, consumers cited price as the primary reason for purchasing private label brands,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “On the flip side, taste and quality were the top reasons given by consumers for never purchasing private label. If grocery brands can deliver on both price and taste, they have a good chance at grabbing more private label market share.”

On the non-food side, more than two-thirds of consumers purchase private label cleaning products some or most of the time. The number of consumers purchasing private label cleaning products has increased slightly from the 2011 Market Force study. Of those who buy private label cleaning products, 73% do so because of the price and 46% for the value. Fifty-six percent could not remember the last time they tried a new cleaning product brand and of those who did, 21% chose a private label brand, while 68% did not.

The survey was conducted in May 2013 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 6,645 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women and 27% were men, and half have children at home.

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