Private Label Groceries Growing in Popularity

More shoppers are purchasing private label products this year compared to last year, according to a recent study of more than 6,200 consumers by Market Force Information. The study revealed that 98% of shoppers purchase private label food items or cleaning products at least some of the time, on the rise from 96%
in 2013.

Market Force’s grocery study was designed to uncover consumers’ awareness of private label brands, as well purchasing trends for private label grocery products. Private label products continue to be popular options for budget-minded shoppers, though there is still substantial opportunity for grocery brands to increase wallet share in certain categories.

The study shows that a small percentage of shoppers are unaware of private label brands, and as many say that they never purchase them—both categories showing a 1% drop from 2013. The percentage of consumers who sometimes opt for private label is up 1% from 2013, as are the number of shoppers who always reach for private label.

Most shoppers are familiar with their supermarket’s private label dairy products, and most are frequently purchasing them. Seventy-eight percent of shoppers indicated that their primary grocer offers private label dairy products, 8% said they do not and 14% don’t know. This high level of awareness appears to translate into frequent purchases, as 60% of consumers indicated that they buy private label dairy most of the time or always, and another 35% said they sometimes purchase it. These were the highest percentages of any category studied, suggesting that consumers perceive the taste quality to be similar to national brands, but at a lower price-point.

Fewer Serial Cereal Purchasers
Private label cereal is a less common private label grocery purchase, and shoppers don’t seem to be reaching for it as frequently as they did one year ago. This year, 27% of participants said they purchase private label cereal most of the time or always, a slight dip from the 30% who reported doing so in 2013. What’s more, 31% said they never buy private label cereal—the highest of any grocery category studied. When asked if their primary grocer offers private label cereal, 76% indicated “yes,” 6% said “no” and 18% were unsure.

Similar to cereal, 27% of consumers report buying private label snacks most of the time or always, while 53% sometimes buy them and 19% never do. These findings shifted very little from the 2013 study. Sixty-eight percent of shoppers said that their primary grocer carries a private label snack brand, while 25% were unsure and 7% said their grocer doesn’t offer one.

Market Force also looked at consumer behavior around the purchase of private label cleaning products and saw some growth from last year. Twenty-six percent of shoppers said they opt for private label most of the time or always, up from 23% in 2013. In this category, private label awareness was particularly low, as 39% of respondents said they don’t know if their grocer sells a private label cleaning product—that is nearly 15% higher than any other category studied.

“While private label purchases in general are trending upwards, there is significant opportunity to capture additional wallet share, particularly in the categories with longer shelf-lives such as cleaning products and cereal,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of strategy for Market Force. “Shelf promotion is key, as shoppers often report trying a new brand because they noticed it on the shelf.”

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted in March 2014 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 6,247 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with nearly 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were women and 27% were men, and 50% have children at home.

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