Consumer Survey

Increased consumer appreciation of private label foretells future growth

Europeans will never shop the same for groceries, asserts a new study from PLMA International Council, which says the pandemic brought significant changes in how consumers consider and purchase food and non-food products for their household and that many of the most important changes are enduring.

Among its top findings, private label is more popular now than ever as measured by consumers’ current and planned purchase of the products, as well as how they compare them favourably to manufacturers’ brands.

Nearly three in ten respondents said they are buying more private label now compared to the amount they purchased before the pandemic. Importantly, the youngest participants in the survey – Gen Z and Millennials – increased their own label buying the greatest among age groups.

Prospects for growth also look good. Four in ten overall said that, over the next two years, they expect to buy more own label than they do now.

Private label products constitute a big portion of consumers’ regular shopping baskets. Three in ten respondents said when they buy groceries, more than half of their basket is comprised of own label products. An equal number said one-third to half of their regular order is made up of own label.

Private labels have become “brands” in most consumers’ minds. When asked to compare private label with manufacturers’ brands, 60% of respondents considered the products equal, while 22% looked at private labels more favourably than they did at manufacturer’s brands.

Compared to how they felt before the pandemic, 17% expressed more confidence now in the quality, value, and performance of private labels.

When asked to rate private label products in specific categories, 51% of respondents said they were very confident in toilet/kitchen paper, 47% in fresh products, 43% in shelf-stable food and cleaning products, 42% in frozen food, 40% in beverages, 31% in ready meals, and 27% in cosmetics.

Also accruing to the future benefit of private label, more than half of all respondents said the price of products is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.

For retailers, there is ample opportunity at the point of purchase to persuade a shopper to opt for private label. When looking for a particular product, most take their time: 66% compare prices and seek a bargain, 39% look for other brands of the product that are available, 26% examine the packaging of other brands and 19% look for innovation. A minority is decisive: without hesitation, 20% select the supermarket's own brand and 17% choose the national brand.

The online consumer survey was conducted by Surveylab in April 2022 and collected responses from 6,500 shoppers across eight countries -- France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Each respondent self-identified as the primary grocery shopper for their household.