Holiday Shoppers Save 33% Switching to Private Brand

A new study of supermarket prices reaffirms what retailers and the average American shopper already knew, the age-old National Brand Equivalent Private Brand is cheaper than national brands. The study by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) reveals shoppers on average could save almost a third off their grocery bill by filling their seasonal market baskets with the Private Brand rather than with pricier national brands. That’s something worth celebrating for those with more festive things to spend their hard-earned money on.

The research, conducted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, tracked the pricing for 40 typical grocery items at a conventional supermarket. Included in the survey were cold-weather pantry staples like stuffing, cranberry sauce, soup, oatmeal, pancake mix, maple syrup and hot chocolate, as well as wintertime personal necessities such as lip balm, body lotion, cough drops, sinus spray, tissue and nighttime cold medicine.

The study results indicate that by choosing the Private Brand version of the products on the list rather than the national brand consumers could save $43.92 (a savings of 33.6%) on average on their total market basket. When buying the national brands the 40-item purchase came to $130.78 on average over six separate trips, while the same purchases for the retailer’s brands cost $86.85 on average. The survey took place over a six-week period in a suburban supermarket located in the northeast.

For every category in the study, a leading national brand product was compared to a similar store brand product and prices were adjusted to account for all known discounts, coupons and promotions available for each of the six shopping visits in the study.

Among individual food items the cost savings ranged as high as 46% on a 2-liter bottle of soda, 40% on maple syrup and oatmeal, 38% on packaged macaroni and cheese, and 36% on ice cream, pasta sauce and hot dogs. Savings in many non-foods categories were even greater, led by aspirin (the store brand version cost 62% less on average), body lotion (55% less), sinus spray and facial tissue (both 47% less) and aluminum foil (42% less). In all instances, the store brand cost less than the national brand.

In a recent study by GfK Roper, two-thirds of shoppers who changed their food buying habits as a result of economic conditions say they are purchasing private label products in categories where they used to buy only national brand items. Looking ahead, the data indicates this trend will continue: Eight out of ten respondents say when the economy returns to normal they will still buy the retailer’s brand where previously only the national brands would do.

A separate study by Epsilon Targeting confirmed that consumers are forsaking national brands across a wide range of categories, including 75% of respondents who say they switched to store brands for household products, 74% for foods, 59% for health and personal care products, and 27% for pet care.

Typical Store Brand vs. National Brand Market Basket Comparison

Prices shown are averages based on weekly shopping trips conducted over a 4-week  period.
All prices are net after known discounts, coupons and/or promotions.



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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.