There was a lot of talk last year about how the recession could affect private-label sales.
Sure, it would lead more people to buy it. But would they stick with it when the economy improved?
Turns out, most will, according to a new Private Label Manufacturers Association study conducted by GfK/Roper for publication in Supermarket News.
The survey shows that the economic downturn spurred product trial: Nearly half of consumers are buying private label in categories where they previously only purchased national brands.
What's more, an overwhelming majority of shoppers (86%) will stick with store brands once the economy improves.
That's certainly good news. But retailers aren't relying on the economy alone to drive sales. Many are doing quite the opposite by increasing their marketing investment in their corporate-brand programs.
Social media is one of the tools they're using. Take Safeway, whose private labels get the royal treatment in its blog.
The company's blogger, Kate, serves as a corporate-brand ambassador of sorts. Her posts frequently tout items like Eating Right steamed beets and Lucerne pumpkin cream cheese over the holidays.
Another form of digital marketing is video recipe contests. Big Y and Harris Teeter were both active in this area by letting shoppers send in videos of themselves preparing recipes that included their private labels. Both companies awarded hundreds of dollars to the winners.
Speaking of cash, retailers don't shy away from high-value sweepstakes. Like national-brand manufacturers, retailers realize that offering big bucks spells more consumer interest.
To support the launch of its Brookshire's Best Angus Beef, Brookshire's Food & Pharmacy, Tyler, Texas, awarded one lucky shopper a $10,000 backyard makeover.
Since free product always turns heads, retailers are employing this strategy, too. Several times last year, Buehler's Fresh Food gave out a free store-brand with the purchase of a national-brand counterpart.
Hannaford, meanwhile, helped charity and its private label with a holiday fund-raiser in which it donated a private-label item to a local food bank each time one was purchased.
With promotions like these, it's easy to see why consumers are increasingly trying private label. And as retailers improve quality standards, package design, product ingredient and other elements of their corporate-brand programs, it's easy to see why they are sticking with it once they do.