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    Private Label Purchases Holding Steady

    Packaging found to provide name brands with a competitive edge.

    DENVER -- An ongoing shopper behavior study conducted by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research, The Checkout, shows that shoppers overall seem to be keeping their private label shopping habits consistent with last year.

    Some shopper segments, though, appear to be increasing their acceptance of private label, with more than a third of shoppers saying they are buying more private label brands than last year. Of that group, one in three shoppers say they will probably buy even more in the future.

    While more than half of shoppers (54 percent) cited quality as their top priority when shopping for everyday products, less than a third said name brands are better quality or more reliable than private label. However, 56 percent of shoppers have the perception that name-brand packaging is more attractive than private label.

    "Shoppers realize that name brands no longer guarantee better quality, and there is a significant decline in the gap between private label and brand name over the past few years,” said Craig Elston, senior vice president of insight and strategy at Denver-based The Integer Group. “When it comes to differentiating the product itself, packaging might be the only thing left for name brands to stand out.”

    Packaging not only affects shoppers' perceptions of the product, but also influences purchase decisions. Accordingly, “it's an area where name brands have a competitive edge," Elston noted.

    Additional findings from the Private Label edition of The Checkout are:

    • Only 29 percent of the survey's respondents feel strongly that national brands are of better quality, down from 36 percent last year and 43 percent in 2010.
    • When asked what types of private label household goods shoppers are OK buying, 66 percent of respondents listed over-the-counter medicine at the top of the list, with milk as a close second at 61 percent.
    • The least-purchased private label category in the study is pet food, with only 18 percent of shoppers saying they would be OK purchasing this as private label.
    • Forty-five percent of shoppers believe name brands have more new products, variety and innovations than private label brands.

    Data for The Checkout comes from a national survey conducted by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research, where consumers are asked about their shopping attitudes, shopping behaviors and economic outlook. Topics range from criteria shoppers use to select retailers, to which in-store stimulus is most likely to drive purchase, to factors that might lead shoppers to leave an aisle empty-handed. The Checkout is available for download at Integer's blog, ShopperCulture.com.

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