retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The October Consumer Reports offers a comparison of national brand and store brand products, concluding that “in 21 head-to-head taste match-ups, national brands won seven times, the store brand came out on top in three instances, and the remainder resulted in ties.” (A tie, the magazine says, “doesn't mean the taste was identical. Two products may be equally fresh and flavorful, with ingredients of similar quality, but taste dissimilar because the recipe or seasonings differ.”)

“The study reaffirms that store brands are worth a try,” Tod Marks, senior projects editor for Consumer Reports, says in explaining the study. “For a family that spends $100 a week on groceries, the savings could add up to more than $1,500 a year.” Nutritionally, most of the products seems to be about the same, according to Consumer Reports, no matter whether they are national or private brands.

According to the magazine, the “price study evaluated five supermarket chains and compared store- and name-brand prices for 30 everyday items at five chains, collecting a total of 283 price quotes (and) found the average savings with store brands was 30 percent, but shoppers saved as much as 52 percent on some items.”

Consumer Reports notes, however, that while national brands are perceived as being more expensive than private brands, that difference may be narrowing as companies lower costs and prices in response to the recession.
KC's View:
There’s no question that this recession has given private brands a bump, but in my mind it remains to be seen whether this advance will be maintained in prosperity. More than anything, it will have to do with quality and innovation levels being maintained on own-label items ... offering a differential advantage, not just an alternative.