NEW YORK — According to a recent poll of grocery shoppers, more people are buying store brands in categories previously dominated by national brands. And this trend is likely to persist, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (P.L.M.A.’s) recent nationwide poll of main household grocery shoppers conducted by GfK Custom Research North America.
Contained in P.L.M.A.’s report, Store Brands & The Economy: Are Shoppers Ready to Start Spending Again?, the data found that shoppers have changed their food-buying habits as a result of economic conditions by a solid majority (63%). Two-thirds of these shoppers said 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-of-10 respondents said they will be buying more store-brand products in categories where they previously only purchased the national brand product once the economy returns to normal. The growing popularity of private-label extends to all categories, as 76% of shoppers say they will be buying store brands more often.
The study, which is the latest of P.L.M.A.’s series of consumer opinion polls, documented that 91% of shoppers are cutting back on money spent on restaurants, fast-food and takeout; nearly nine of 10 shoppers are keeping shopping list and avoid buying on impulse; and 81% of respondents are cutting back on purchasing more expensive items, such as fish, meat, prepared meals and convenience products.
However, the study offers marketers and retailers hope, thanks to some perceived signs of recovery on the horizon, that consumers are beginning to look beyond economic concerns and may be prepared to open their pocketbooks again.
Approximately one in five shoppers surveyed said economic conditions have recently improved. The results reflect an uptick since February, when just 17% saw any improvement. The gain was especially evident among those earning at least $75,000, with 27% now saying the economy has improved. Meanwhile, 41% say conditions have stayed the same and 36% think things have gotten worse.
Shoppers are now assigning importance to nutrition and health-related issues when making choices about which food products to buy. Topping their list of concerns are nutritional values. Fully 82% of those surveyed say calories and fat intake are important (51% say these are “very important” to them). Sugar content is important to 78% of shoppers, while salt content is important to 73%.
Specific health issues such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension are somewhat less important than the nutritional values. These conditions are important to 70%, 62% and 60% of shoppers, respectively. Food allergies are important to 37%. And though gluten content trails other health and nutritional concerns, 36% of shoppers say it’s important to them and 18% say it’s very important.
Approximately two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed are satisfied that product labeling for both store brands and national brands provides them with sufficient information to make decisions about which food products to buy with regard to nutrition and health.