88% of Shoppers Plan to Keep Buying Private Brands After the Economy Improves

Research and customer insight giant Nielsen takes a look a the staying power of Private Brands globally and discovers that consumers plan to continue their new shopping habits and buy Private Brands.

The Global Staying Power of Private Label

Shoppers around the world took many steps to stretch their budgets during the recession such as eating at home more frequently or cutting back on vacations.  While improving economies may prompt consumers to return to restaurants or take a vacation, one trend that looks likely to remain—and perhaps even grow—is the shift to private label goods.

A 2010 global online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company reveals that 60% of consumers across 55 countries from Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America and Middle East/Africa (consisting of countries from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and South Africa), say they are stocking cupboards with more store brands as a result of the economic downturn. Across the regions, Latin America led the way at 66% and the Middle East/Africa/Pakistan area trailed at 51%.

The highest levels of private label purchase intent during the economic downturn were reported by consumers in Colombia, Spain, Portugal and Greece at 80%, 79%, 74% and 70% respectively, reflecting recessionary realities, depressed export activity and raging deficits. Meanwhile, the lowest reported drift toward private label came from consumers in Sweden (70%), Thailand (62%), Hong Kong (60%) and Denmark (59%) who indicated they did not purchase more store brands during the recession.

While econometric pressures are driving many value-oriented consumer shopping decisions, it is just one factor influencing private label purchasing. A strong push from retailers and improvements in both quality and selection are contributing factors. It should also be noted that not all private label categories are alike. Store brand share varies widely by category and they still represent the minority stake when compared to premium brands.

Store brand share is typically strongest in commodity categories like milk, fresh eggs, rice, edible oil, vinegar and sugar/substitutes or in those with little differentiation (first aid and wrapping materials). Store brand share is usually the lowest among categories where there is strong marketing support for top brands (e.g., candy, gum, beer) and those where a high-level of innovation occurs (e.g., detergents, deodorant, cosmetics).

Staying Power
Fully 88% of shoppers globally said they intend to keep buying private label even after the economy improves, suggesting that store brand quality has reached parity with national brands and delivers on consumer expectations. While Latin American and Middle East/Africa levels were slightly less than the global average at 83% and 79% respectively, the overwhelming majority still intended to pursue a value strategy.

Countries with the most value-conscious consumers on the private label dimension included Austria, Germany and Sweden, all registering a better than 95% intent to continue purchasing private label, while more than one-quarter of shoppers in the Ukraine (31%), Pakistan (28%), the United Arab Emirates (27%) and Venezuela (27%) had no intention to buy private label in the future.

The economic downturn prompted many consumers to try private label goods for the first time, and once they did so, they discovered that not only was the pricing right, but the quality of the goods met or exceeded expectations. Regardless of the pace of economic recovery, retailers continue to have a tremendous opportunity to convert shoppers to private label for the long term.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.