Private-label goods, frozen foods and reduced-fat products are center store areas that should see substantial growth over the next year, according to a nationwide poll of 1,000 shoppers.
usive study conducted for Supermarket News by America's Research Group.
The poll results support retailer reports of increased private-label sales, and back up predictions of continued growth.
Shoppers were asked if they were buying more or fewer private-label or store-brand items from supermarkets than they were a year ago. More than 40% responded that they were buying more of these products, while 23.8% answered they were buying fewer.
Looking ahead, 37% of those surveyed predicted they would buy more private-label items from supermarkets during the coming year. On the other hand, 20.6% thought they would be buying fewer private-label products.
"Private label is clearly a growing category for supermarkets," said Britt Beemer, chairman and founder of America's Research Group. "Further," he added, "the category will continue to grow in the coming year."
The biggest gains in private-label products came in purchases of canned goods, paper towels, trash bags and frozen vegetables. Diapers, bottled water and ice cream were the least popular products among the private-label products tested in the survey.
In analyzing the findings,
Beemer said consumers "did not have great concerns" about the quality of supermarket-brand products like trash bags and paper towels, and appeared quite pleased with the overall quality they found in private-label frozen vegetables and canned goods.
Meanwhile, "the jury is still out" in the minds of shoppers with regard to store-brand carbonated beverages, chips and snacks, frozen juice and breakfast cereal, he said.
Those in need of baby diapers are "clearly differentiating users," he said, while shoppers for ice cream and cookies "still prefer the brand names."
Frozen foods, lodged in a battle to keep expanding perimeter departments from further encroaching on their turf, proved more popular than not among those surveyed.
When asked if they were buying more or less frozen food from supermarkets than a year ago, 38% reported purchasing more, while 27.8% said they were buying less.
In a finding sure to warm the hearts of all frozen-food penguins, 33.1% of the shoppers predicted they would be buying more frozen food this year. However, 24.3% said less.
With that differential, Beemer said, the results show "frozen food is clearly a growing category for supermarkets."
The top reason for the popularity of frozen food given by shoppers was quality. More than six in 10 (64.6%) of those surveyed listed product quality as the most important or a very important reason for buying frozen food. Other options were important, somewhat important and least important. Price (59.9%) was the second-ranking reason tagged as most important or very important in frozen-food purchasing decisions, followed by year-round availability (58.4%) and variety (56.1%). Convenience of storage and use, long touted as the strongest selling point of frozen foods, ranked last at 46.2%.
There were no surprises in results at the low-fat end. Nearly 55% of those surveyed reported they were buying more low-fat and reduced-fat versions of products than at this time last year. Approximately 21% said they were bucking the healthy trend and buying less of these items.
The health trend will continue, Beemer said, as consumers become even more fat-conscious. As for the coming year, 50.1% of those polled said trips to the grocery store would include shopping for more low- or reduced-fat products, while 18.6% said they would be buying less than they are now.
"There's clearly a great concern among shoppers today about the fat content of the food they buy," Beemer remarked.
Are you buying more or fewer versions of low-fat and reduced-fat grocery products today compared with a year ago?
Consumer confidence is private-label canned goods appears to be soaring. Here's how consumers responded when asked if they were buying more or fewer store-brand products by specific product category: