Private Brands Pack Back-to-School Savings

With kids back in the classroom and summer fading, a new survey looked at supermarket prices of 40 common back-to-school items and found that shoppers could pocket savings of more than one-third if they purchased store brands products instead of national brands.

The research, conducted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, looked at a range of products that might make it onto the shopping list for a typical family with school-age children. The study included basic supplies like pencils, pens and notebooks, as well as lunchbox essentials like cold cuts, sandwich bread, fruit cups and granola bars. Pricing for all 40 items was tracked at a conventional supermarket over a four-week period.

The study found that consumers would save $47.52 on average when purchasing private label products, for a total market basket savings of 35.5%. Consumers would spend $86.30 while buying store brands, whereas the same market basket comprised entirely of national brand products would run up a grocery bill totaling $133.82.

In each category, 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. The survey was repeated on a weekly basis during the 4-week period from August 13, 2011 through September 3, 2011 in a suburban supermarket located in the northeast.

In the PLMA study, twenty-three of the forty products surveyed saved consumers 30% or more on their seasonal shopping needs. One third of the products saved consumers 40% or more, with 8 of these products saving consumers more than 50%.

Some the biggest store brands money-savers were the school supplies, such as 120-page notebooks and glue sticks (77% less than the national brand), pencils (62% savings), adhesive tape (39% savings) and ballpoint pens (29% savings). Food items were also high on the list, including sandwich bread (73% savings), hot dog buns (62% savings), ice cream (53% savings), oatmeal (51% savings) and maple syrup (44% savings). In four instances – fruit gel cups, juice boxes, canned tuna and zipper bags – the study found that the national brands were discounted below the cost of private label products.

Nearly one in four grocery products sold today is the retailer’s brand. Over the past decade store brands have experienced unprecedented growth and consumer acceptance, gaining 40% in supermarket sales. According to an analysis of shopper loyalty-card data by Catalina Marketing, the top 100 national brands saw loyalty decline among 46% of their most loyal consumers in the past year alone, exacting a further toll on national brand sales.

To see the price comparison chart:

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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.