22 August 2005
Two thirds of global consumers consider Supermarket Own, or ‘Private Label’, Brands to be a good alternative to other brands, with as many as four in five consumers considering this the case in the developed markets of Europe, the Pacific and North America, according to a Global Private Label Consumer Study released today by ACNielsen, the world’s leading marketing research and information company.
The twice-yearly global ACNielsen Online Consumer Opinion Survey, the largest of its kind, polled over 21,100 respondents in 38 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America and South Africa. The study asked consumers around the world what they thought about Supermarket Own Brands as an alternative to other brands in terms of their quality, value for money, packaging and positioning.
Against a global average of 68 percent who said that Supermarket Own Brands were a good alternative to other brands, consumers’ agreement was skewed heavily in their favour in the highly developed ‘Private Label’ markets of Europe (78%), the Pacific (78%), North America (77%) and South Africa (72%). This compared to 64% of Latin Americans and 51% of consumers in Asia.
Across the 38 countries, the Top 10 countries rating supermarket labels the most highly hailed from Europe – perhaps not surprising given the strong discounter presence - led by the Netherlands (91%), Portugal (89%) and Germany (88%).
At the other end of the scale, eight of the bottom 10 hailed from Asia, with Japanese and Malaysian consumers (35%) in least agreement that Supermarket Own Labels were a good alternative to other brands.
“Private label awareness and acceptance in Asia and other developing markets will in part go hand in hand with the growth of the Modern Trade in these countries. In urban Asia, for example, share of the modern (supermarket) trade is currently running at 47 percent, and is expected to pass 50 percent in 2005. In some of these markets, where the retail landscape is highly fragmented shoppers are only just getting used to visiting supermarkets and hypermarkets regularly for their groceries, and Private Label is still a relatively new concept for them,” said Mr Ashok Charan, Managing Director of ACNielsen Research Singapore.
“Additionally, the attraction of major well-known multinational and local brands with strong brand equity supported by heavy advertising, means that the appeal of Private Label would be limited in many of these markets”, added Mr Charan.
“Here in Singapore, consumers are generally receptive towards purchasing Private Labels. According to the ACNielsen l ShopperTrends study in 2004, more than half (56%) of the household shoppers have bought Private Label products in the past four weeks, marking the highest Private Label penetration across Asia,” continued Mr Charan.
Good Value for Money, and Quality on Par with the Big Brands
Consumers globally are in similar agreement when it comes to Private Label Quality and Value for Money, with a global average of 69 percent agreeing they were extremely good value for money, and 62 percent considering their quality to be at least as good as the big brands.
Across the regions, consumers in the Pacific and the US were almost unanimous, with 81 percent in both regions considering them extremely good Value for Money. They also agreed on Quality, with 72 percent in the US, and 70 percent in Pacific considering Private Label quality to be at least as good as the usual big brands. Europe followed closely behind with 73 percent agreeing on Value for Money and 68 percent on Quality.
Across individual countries, of those rating Private Label most highly on Value for Money, seven of the top 10 hailed from Europe, with the remainder made up of Canadians (#5, with 83% in agreement), Malaysians (#7, with 82%) and Australians (#10, with 81%). Least in agreement on Value for Money were the Thais (25%) and Japanese (27%).
“From their origins in the ‘60s and ‘70s offering cheaper, generic products, Private Label brands have evolved along with the Retailers’ brands themselves. From a generic offering with an aggressive price / lower quality positioning, Own Label brands have evolved to become almost equivalent in quality and closer on pricing in the minds of consumers, particularly in the highly developed markets in Europe, the Pacific and North America,” said Mr Charan.
In Singapore, almost three in every four consumers feel that Private Labels are extremely good value for money, with only seven percent thinking otherwise. Furthermore, 55 percent are confident of the quality of Private Labels, believing that they are comparable to that of other big brands.
Some Categories More Suitable for Private Label than Others
When asked if they thought there were some products where quality really mattered, not suitable as Private Label, a global average of 40 percent agreed, led by half the Latin Americans (51%) and Asians (48%). Even in highly Own Label-developed markets in the Pacific, two in five consumers (41%) agreed that there were certain products not suitable for Private Label. This was also agreed with by one third of consumers in Europe (35%). Only in the US did nearly one half of consumers (48%) disagree.
“Consumers may be happy with the quality of Private Label when it comes to dog food, kitchen towels, sugar and flour, but are less convinced if they’re considering, say shampoo, baby food or their favourite pasta sauce, particularly in the less developed markets. Yet retailers in the US appear to be convincing consumers that quality and value Private Label is available across other categories too,” commented Mr Charan.
More Sophisticated Private Label Packaging Winning Consumers Over
As competition intensifies in-store, and the perceived quality gap narrows between Private and Supplier brands, retailers appear to have ratcheted up the quality of their packaging. When asked, an average of 42 percent of consumers disagreed that Private Label products had cheap, off-putting packaging, led by half the Europeans, 46 percent of North Americans, and 45 percent of consumers in the Pacific.
Across Europe, cheap packaging is certainly not an issue for retailers in Germany, Austria and Finland, where over two thirds of consumers disagree that Private Label packaging is cheap-looking. At the same time, there appears to be a packaging redesign opportunity for retailers in South America, Latin America, and Asia, where 44 percent, 40 percent and 38 percent of consumers respectively agreed that Private Label packaging was cheap-looking and off-putting. This was particularly felt in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa and Turkey.
Compared to the average Asian consumer, product packaging of Private Label items is less of an issue in Singapore with a higher proportion of Singaporean consumers disagreeing that Supermarket brands have cheap-looking packaging which would deter them from buying.
Image and Education the Biggest Challenges for Retailers in Developing Markets
And just because they’re cheaper, it doesn’t mean they’re only meant for people on tight budgets who can’t afford the best brands as agreed by 42 percent of consumers globally. This was particularly felt by more than half of consumers in the US (56%), the Pacific (54%) and Europe (50%). Heading the top 10 country ranking, two thirds of consumers in Finland (72%), Germany (66%), the Netherlands (65%) and Sweden (64%) also disagreed.
At the other end of the scale, and presenting the biggest opportunity for retailers in developing markets, more than two thirds of consumers in Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines agreed that Private Label was for those that couldn’t afford the ‘best’ brands.
While 27 percent of consumers in Singapore cannot decide, slightly more of the remaining people here disagreed (39%) that Supermarket Own Brands are meant for those under budget constraints, compared to those (35%) who considered.
“Partly this could be attributed to a lack of understanding about retailer brands in many of these developing markets. In Malaysia and Taiwan for example, nearly half of respondents also agreed that they didn’t know enough about them to want to try them,” Mr Charan said. “In Singapore, the number of Private Labels are few, but they are owned by the major and very established retailers, which explains why consumers are confident of the products these retailers produce and sell.”
“Our survey clearly showed that the longer consumers have been exposed to Private Label – in terms of years’ in the market and how highly penetrated it is as a percentage of in store total category volume sales - the better they think about them. Conversely, in markets where Private Label is less developed, consumers know less about them, and assume from their packaging and price that they are of lesser quality, and aimed at people who can’t afford the bigger brands,” commented Mr Charan.
ACNielsen, a VNU business, is the world's leading marketing information provider. Offering services in more than 100 countries, the unit provides measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics and consumer attitudes and behavior. Clients rely on ACNielsen's market research, proprietary products, analytical tools and professional service to understand competitive performance, to uncover new opportunities and to raise the profitability of their marketing and sales campaigns. To learn more, visit www.acnielsen.com.
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