More shoppers are purchasing private label (store brand) products this year compared to last year, according to a recent study of more than 6,200 consumers by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. The study revealed that 98 percent of shoppers purchase private label food or cleaning products at least some of the time, on the rise from 96 percent in 2013. Dairy, specifically milk, is still the most frequently purchased private label product of the categories studied, followed by cereal, snacks and cleaning products.
Market Force’s grocery study was designed to uncover how consumers think about and purchase private label grocery products. It also looked at consumer preferences and buying behaviors across specific types of private label food and household 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 showed that few shoppers are unaware of private label brands and as many are aware of them but never purchase them—both categories down 1 percent from 2013. The percentage of consumers who sometimes opt for private label is up 1 percent from 2013 as are the number of shoppers who always reach for private label.
Got (private label) milk?
According to the study, 60 percent of consumers buy private label dairy most of the time or always, and another 35 percent 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. When asked which dairy products shoppers purchase at least once every two weeks, milk came out on top at 82 percent, with cheese not too far behind with 67 percent. Yogurt, butter and sour cream also are common private label dairy buys.
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 percent of participants said they purchase private label cereal most of the time or always, a slight dip from the 30 percent who reported doing so in 2013. What’s more, 31 percent said they never buy private label cereal—the highest of any grocery category studied. When they do reach for private label cereal, most are choosing non-organic varieties over their organic counterparts. More than half said they buy cold, non-organic cereal at least semimonthly, while just 8 percent buy cold organic.
Similar to cereal, 27 percent of consumers report buying private label snacks most of the time or always, while 53 percent sometimes buy them and 19 percent never do. These findings shifted very little from the 2013 study. Private label chips were far and away the most popular snack, followed by crackers, cookies and granola bars.
Awareness low for private label cleaning products
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 percent in 2013. Laundry detergent was shoppers’ most commonly purchased private label product, trailed by dishwasher detergent and air fresheners. In this category, in particular, private label awareness was particularly low, as 39 percent of respondents said they don’t know if their grocer sells a private label cleaning product—that is nearly 15 percent 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 SVP of strategy for Market Force. “Shelf promotion is key, as shoppers often report trying a new brand because they noticed it on the shelf.”