Natural Foods Merchandiser

Public shows affection for private label

Sales of private label organic products shot up during the past year as consumers sought bargains in their baskets. A new survey suggests that shoppers' views about the quality of these items—not just the price tags—are changing.

Rather than being considered low-quality with bland packaging, private label brands are being thought of as unique, with quality commensurate with that of traditional brands according to a forthcoming report from J.D. Power and Associates. The report was previewed at the Information Resources Inc. Consumer Packaged Goods Summit in Las Vegas this week. The research found that while private label pricing remains a strong motivator of consumers, the quality and flavor of private label organic products drive the products' popularity.

"It's clear that consumers have begun to discard the idea that private label brands are of lower quality than traditional brands, which provides an opportunity for retailers to differentiate themselves with high quality, reasonably priced store brands," said Jane Eden-Harris, vice president of J.D. Power and Associates Web Intelligence Division, based in Westlake Village, Calif.

The report analyzed nearly 50,000 spontaneous conversations that took place in the blogosphere and on message boards over the past year that discussed private label brands from various retailers. The internet was particular buzzing with favorable mentions of the private label lines available at Safeway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Consumers were more excited about private label food products than non-food products such as paper products and cleaning supplies.

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