NEW YORK — A survey conducted by the consulting firm Deloitte shows consumer purchasing patterns may be shifting in favor of brands vs. private label. After years of focusing on value, consumers now are starting to express a greater interest in brands and the innovation many may offer, according to the consultancy’s annual American Pantry survey.
But the news for branded consumer packaged goods manufacturers was not all good. The survey of more than 354 brands across 34 product categories showed an overall decline in a consumer’s “must have” status. The consulting firm defined “must have” as meaning shoppers would purchase an item whether it was on sale or not.
The American Pantry Study also showed a drop in the appeal of store brands as well. Improved consumer perceptions of the economy and a shopper’s willingness to pay a premium for such attributes as health and convenience were cited as reasons for the decline.
“This is a critical moment for consumer product companies,” said Barb Renner, vice-chairman, Deloitte L.L.P. and U.S. consumer products leader. “While the majority of consumers say they are committed to sustained frugality year after year, our findings point to early signs that they may finally be responding to a belated but increasingly strong economic recovery.
“It creates tremendous opportunities and risks for companies in this sector, given households’ lack of commitment to national brands brought on by years of stretching dollars to the limit. Brands that get things right can use the economy’s momentum to regain their place on consumers’ shelves, but those that move too slowly could very well be left behind.”
This year’s survey also showed consumers may be loosening their purse strings and taking a negative view of store brands. For example, the number of consumers who view store brands as a sacrifice stood at 43% in this year’s survey, a 10 percentage point increase compared with last year. The number of consumers who said they were more open to trying store branded products fell eight percentage points.
More positive for the makers of branded products was the finding that 25% of the consumers surveyed indicated they are willing to pay 10% or more for a product they perceived to be new or innovative and 33% said they would pay more for a food or beverage product perceived as having a craft positioning.
Health and wellness also was identified as a purchase trigger in the survey. Eighty-six per cent of those surveyed said they prefer convenient product options if it is perceived as healthy and 25% said they are willing to pay a 10% premium for healthier versions of a product.The American Pantry survey looked at the use of on-line ordering and delivery and found there is a gap between consumers’ interest level and actual usage levels. For example, 38% of consumers said they are interested in on-line grocery orders for in-store pick up, but only 11% are using the service. Similarly, 27% are interested in home delivery orders placed on-line for recurring purchases, but only 11% are using such a service. Deloitte said the findings suggest there may be a shortage of services consumers seek, creating an unmet demand that C.P.G. companies may pursue for growth.