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Consumer Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Store Brands

A new exclusive survey shows price point can sway consumer purchase decisions toward either national brands or private label in several product categories.

February 3, 2014

This survey investigating attitudes to private label was sent to members of Consumer Science’s online U.S. panel with responses collected during December 2013.

Consumer preference for national brands versus private label was researched at a category level. The results showed a clear preference for national brands in Beverages, Pet Products, Cereal and Personal Care. Private label was preferred over national brands for Dairy, Frozen/Canned Produce and Paper Products.

Repondents were asked to choose the reason for their preference, in each category, from the following options: Everyday Price, Promotion Price, Quality/Perfomance, Availability, Familiarity, Innovative Products, and Packaging. For those preferrring national brands, Quality/Perfomance was the overwhelming reason given across all the categories, with familiarity generally a distant second. For those preferring private labels, everyday price was the overwhelming reason given. There weren't any significant demographic differences found in the preferences.

Notably, the largest preference was for either national brands or private labels for all the categories except Beverages, Pet Products, Cereal and Personal Care. The preference here was all about the best price, either promotion pricing or everyday pricing. A typical respondent comment captures this sentiment:

“I buy store brands as they are typically base-price cheaper. I use coupons to buy name-brand items at a lower price. Price dictates what I purchase, not the brand.”

However, quality showed up as a major (greater than 20 percent choosing) variable factor for Snacks, Soups/Dressings and Personal Care.

The preferences above indicate there is still some work to do on the quality of private label, especially in some key categories. The respondents were asked about their quality perceptions of national brands vs. private label on a more granular level using a sliding scale of -4 to +4.

The median score of -1 for private label showed its quality perception is still slightly inferior to that of national brands. Comments from respondents indicated variability in private label quality:

“Some store brand items are literally the same products in different packaging, while others are inferior quality. You just have to try and base your decision on the outcomes.”

“Store products have gotten way better the last few years, but some products like cereal, chips, snacks and drinks are way behind the national brands in terms of taste and quality.”

Rounding out the perceptions of private label, 57 percent of respondents indicated they would visit a store specifically for the private label at least some of the time. If the economy improves in 2014, only 3 percent indicated they would buy less private label.

Consumer Science ( specializes in primary consumer research. They utilize 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 tests, surveys, social media monitoring and web analytics.  

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