Store brands help consumers make health and wellness purchasing decisions, according to a new survey.
Nearly 90% of consumers say store brands provide the same amount of nutritional information about products as national brands. And three-quarters agree that store brands communicate on the same level as national brands about how their product impacts the environment, according to a Private Label Manufacturers Association study, conducted by GfK/Roper for publication in Supermarket News. The survey was conducted Dec. 7-9 via telephone with about 1,000 consumers (half male; half female).
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The results demonstrate that retailers and their store brands have earned respect for their role in bringing information to the consumer to help decide what products to buy, said Brian Sharoff, PLMA president.
“This means that retailers have been doing the right things to promote nutrition, the environment and ecology,” Sharoff told SN.
Nearly half (47%), meanwhile, said they “frequently” buy supermarket store-brand groceries. Another four in 10 purchase store-brand products “occasionally.”
Along with addressing nutrition and environmental issues, the survey explored consumer attitudes on a wide range of other health and wellness issues, including the state of the American diet and the safety of the country’s food supply.
As for the latter, consumers overwhelmingly feel confident that the foods they eat are safe. Nearly 80% said the food supply of the U.S. on the whole is “very or somewhat safe.” Those 65 years of age and older feel the most secure: One-third believes the food supply is very safe.
Still, a significant percentage thinks the opposite, as nearly 20% said they feel the nation’s food supply is “very/somewhat” unsafe.
“To me that means that belief in the safety of America’s food supply is soft, and can be pushed by events,” Sharoff said.
Consumers have similar attitudes about the safety of nonfood products, with 76% saying they are “very/somewhat safe.” By a wide margin, young consumers in the study, those 24 years of age and under, feel the most secure: Nine of 10 believe such nonfood products are safe.
But 21% said nonfood products are “very/somewhat” unsafe.
“Again, consumer confidence in the safety of nonfoods would appear soft,” said Sharoff.
When asked to comment on surprising findings from the study, Sharoff pointed to a question about healthy eating. More than half (55%) “somewhat/strongly” disagree with the statement, “The foods that most Americans eat on a regular basis are healthy and nutritious.”
“This means that the majority of consumers are very, very aware of their eating habits, or at least the eating habits of others,” he said.
But consumers feel food stores are doing their part to create a change for the better. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said the supermarket where they regularly shop offers nutritional information or guidance about foods that are considered to be healthy and nutritious. Of these, a strong majority (nearly 80%) find the nutritional guidance offered by their supermarkets to be helpful in choosing what they eventually buy.
Younger and more affluent consumers are the most aware of nutritional information and guidance offered by retailers. Seventy-eight percent of those ages 18-24 and 72% of those with family incomes $50,000 and above gave supermarkets credit for such efforts.
Among other results, a majority believes food manufacturers are doing everything possible to provide nutritional information on their products. Nearly 60% say that food manufacturers are doing everything possible to let them know about the nutritional value of the products they bring to market. The youngest consumers also have the highest trust in manufacturers, with more than three-quarters of 18-24-year-olds saying marketers are doing “everything possible” to inform about nutritional value.
The PLMA opted to explore consumer attitudes about the health and nutrition at a time when the nation was free of a major crisis, massive food recall or other event that could skew responses.
“This environment, we felt, would yield a more candid portrait of consumer thinking and, with that, a better way to understand what retailers are doing right or wrong,” said Sharoff.
A key takeaway for retailers and manufacturers is that they should use the right product assortment and packaging to cater to consumers concerned about food nutrition and safety and the impact on the environment.
“Store brands are in a unique position to respond to consumers,” he said.
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