Private Label Buyer
A Walk Down the Aisle - Personal Care

Getting Personal

May 9, 2012
secret shoppers private labels

Some retailers need to put more emphasis on touting the lower prices of their private label personal care items. Read what else PLBuyer secret shoppers found that can help you improve the sales of your personal care products.

Shoppers today are finding private label options more agreeable than ever before, and although shoppers may notice differences in flavor profiles for food items, that is not the case for non-food items such as in the personal care category. Also, as the quality and the quantity of items available in this category increases, more shoppers are likely to give private label a try.


PLBuyer’s Secret Shoppers that strolled the personal care aisle in February found mixed results when it came to in-store ads.

At a Target in Colorado Springs, our shopper noted that a newspaper insert was posted on the wall at the entrance of the store, but there were no in-store ads or signs for private label products. She did indicate that the shelf tags just show the regular everyday price, however the sale items for that week had a big, red hanging tag attached to the shelf tag.

Michael G. noted that although there were no in-store ads or signs for private label products, there were shelf tags comparing private label prices with national brand prices. He also noted that in some cases, the private label products were shelved directly next to similar national brand products.

While Sarah C. found in-store ads or signs for private label products, and those products were shelved directly next to similar national brands products, she did not find shelf tags comparing private label prices with national brand prices.

Bill K. told us that the only in-store ads or signs he saw for private label products were shelf tags comparing prices with that of the national brand products. He said at the Ingles store that he visited in Asheville, N.C., private label products were shelved directly next to similar national brand products.

Prices for private label offerings generally were lower than the national brand competitors, but once again, private label offerings weren’t available in some categories many of our shoppers discovered.

At the Asheville Ingles, for example, our secret shopper couldn’t find any private label shampoo or conditioner, or shaving cream or gel. Our secret shoppers at the Bashas’ in Mesa, Ariz., and the Target in Colorado Springs, Colo., both didn’t find any private label shampoo or conditioner. And the Bashas’ shopper also noted that private label shaving cream or gel wasn’t available.

The biggest price differences were seen at the Kansas City, Mo., Price Chopper. The same size bottle of dandruff shampoo was $5.49 for the Head & Shoulders brand and 2 for $5 for the Best Choice private label brand when bought with a loyalty card. At the same store, the same size bottle of mouthwash was $5.89 for the Listerine brand and $3.69 for the Best Choice private label brand.

In come cases, the national brand was lower than the private label brand, or there wasn’t a significant price difference. For example, at the Colorado Target, Kleenex brand facial tissue was on sale for 4 for $5, which was $0.14 cheaper than the private label product. At the Ingles store, there was only a $0.20 price difference between the national brand and the private label brand, which may not be enough to sway shoppers.


Asked to comment on other things they noticed as they walked the aisle, our shoppers discussed ingredient lists, the way items were shelved, packaging and the brands themselves.

Christina R. says that the “private label brand usually has the exact same ingredients, smells and size, so it is easy to compare prices and ingredients. And the packaging seems to be identical to the national brand except for the label itself. I also noticed that Target has added more private label products in the personal care area.”

Bill K. also noticed that the private label packaging often mimics the national brands.

Sarah C. says at the Bashas’ she visited, in the tissue aisle, the private label was shelved at eye level and the comparable Kleenex brand was shelved below it.

She also says that for these types of items, she usually buys the national brands because they are cheaper with her coupons.

Michael G. shared that the private label brand across all categories at the Price Chopper that he visited was Best Choice, a brand of Associated Wholesale Grocers, a grocery cooperative serving the Kansas City area under several private label brand names. Price Chopper is among the most prominent grocery store names, but there are other grocery private label brands that market Best Choice brand, including Hen House and others.

He also indicated that he usually only buys products in this category at Costco, Walgreens or CVS.


Comparing the performance of the national brand with private label facial tissue, Michael G. says “I believe the private label product to be an adequate product.”

Bill K. also bought the facial tissue and said “it was soft and relatively strong.”

On the other hand, Sarah C. “prefers to use the national brand tissue as they seem softer to use.”

 Christina R. in Colorado Springs, tried the up & up brand mouthwash from Target and felt “it doesn’t taste as strong as Scope, but my fresh breath did last a long time.”