Private Brands & Summer Savings from the PLMA

A new pricing study compares a summer shopping basket of store brands vs. national brands and finds that consumers can save more than 35% off their grocery bill, on average, by opting for the retailer’s brands.

The research, conducted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association
, looked at a range of basic food and non-food items that an average family might put on the shopping list for a season of barbecues, picnics and outdoor play. The study tracked pricing over a six-week period at a conventional supermarket for 30 grocery items. Summertime staples like hot dogs, ice tea mix, American cheese, BBQ sauce, and freezer pops were among the food items tracked for the study, while the non-foods included charcoal and charcoal lighter, paper plates, foil and adhesive bandages.

The study results indicate that consumers who choose the retailer’s brand for products on the list rather than the national brand could save, on average, $44.04 off their total market basket – a savings of 35.7%. When buying national brands, the total bill came to $123.23 on average over six separate trips, while the same purchases for the retailer’s brands cost $79.19. For every category, a leading national brand was compared to a similar store brand product and prices were adjusted to account for all known discounts, coupons and promotions available. The survey took place over a six-week period in a typical suburban supermarket located in the northeast.

Typical Store Brand vs. National Brand Market Basket Comparison


National Brand

Unit Price

Store Brand

Unit Price

American Cheese Singles



BBQ Sauce






Dry Dog Food



Freezer Pops



Frozen Dinners



Frozen Lemonade



Frozen Pizza



Grape Jelly



Hamburger Buns



Hot Dog Buns



Hot Dogs



Ice Cream



Iced Tea Mix









Packaged Macaroni & Cheese



Peanut Butter



Refrigerated Orange Juice



Salad Dressing








National Brand

Unit Price

Store Brand

Unit Price

Adhesive Bandages



Aluminum Foil






Charcoal Lighter



Facial Tissue



Liquid Laundry Detergent



Paper Napkins



Paper Plates



Paper Towels







 Prices shown are averages based on weekly shopping trips conducted over a 6-week period from 6/18-7/23.  All prices are net after known discounts, coupons and/or promotions. 

Among individual food items the cost savings ranged as high as 53% on hot dog and hamburger buns, 52% on salsa and 50% on both cola and packaged macaroni & cheese dinners.  Savings, on average, for non-foods categories were led by laundry detergent (the store brand version cost a full 79% less), facial tissue (50% less), paper towels (34% less) and aluminum foil (33% less).

Store brands over the past decade have experienced unprecedented growth and consumer acceptance according to industry statistics, gaining 40% in supermarket sales alone. The products today account for nearly one in four grocery products sold.

In a recent survey of consumer’s attitudes toward store brands conducted for PLMA by GfK/Roper, over half of the respondents described themselves as frequent store brand shoppers, while fully eight out of ten said that they believe the store brand products they buy are either equal to or better than the national brands.

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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.