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Survey: Consumers prefer store brand items over name brands

Posted at 12:41 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 14:41:59-04

Are you a name brand loyalist, or are there certain "store brands" you swear are better?

Consumer Reports recently found some shoppers choose certain stores specifically for that store's private label products.

Among the favorite "store brands" in the country were Trader Joe's and Costco's Kirkland Signature brand.

"There are things you can only get in these stores — you can’t get them in other places," said Consumer Reports' Toby Stanger. "And people are very loyal to that kind of product."

Store-specific products are one reason many shoppers now prefer certain store brands. But a growing number of people are also buying copycat versions of items that were once dominated by the big national brands. Safeway Signature Select and Kroger brands ranked in the middle of the Consumer Reports survey. Walmart's Great Value brand was not a favorite.

Burt Flickinger III, with the retail consulting company Strategic Research Group, said store brands will become more popular in the coming years.

"Especially millennial and Gen-Z shoppers — teens to students to young adults — they’re not locked into brands from watching a lot of TV like their parents or grandparents," he said.

He said store brands currently account for 25% of total grocery unit sales in the United States. But he predicts that will grow to around 50% or more in the next 15 years.

One reason is that grocery chains are producing more of their own private label products. Flickinger said the major retailers may carry just one or two name-brand versions of a product, whereas years ago, they carried four or five.

For consumers, price continues to be a major reason they choose store brands over name brands. Experts tell Consumer Reports that a family of four could save up to $3,000 a year by switching to store brand products.

"You can save 20% on an almost identical, or identical product," Stanger said.

Often, store brand canned fruits and vegetables come from the same crop and the same farm during the same week and are packed by the same company that produces the name brand, Flickinger said.