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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- Once upon a time, private label items were the no-frills generic products in supermarkets that were relegated to their own sections, known by their anonymous packaging and poor quality. That was then. Now, according to a globe survey conducted by ACNielsen here, private label is widely recognized as strongly competitive with major brands, and represents better value to boot.
ACNielsen conducted the survey online in 38 markets worldwide. More than two-thirds of shoppers responding said private label products are a "good alternative" to major brands, as well as an "extremely good value for the money." Almost as many said they think that such products offer quality that's "at least as good as that of the usual big brands."
The perception that private label brands are a viable alternative to big name brands was most prevalent in the highly developed regions of Europe (expressed by 78 percent), the Pacific (78 percent), and North America (77 percent); private label’s cache was lower in Latin American (64 percent) and other parts of Asia (51 percent).
All of the top 10 markets that ranked private label products a good alternative were in Europe, led by the Netherlands, at 91 percent; Portugal, at 89 percent; and Germany, at 88 percent.
On the other hand, eight of the bottom 10 markets were in Asia. In the two lowest ratings, only 35 percent of Japanese shoppers and 36 percent Malaysian consumers said they would agree that private label brands are a good alternative to other brands.
"Private label awareness and acceptance in Asia and other developing markets will, in part, go hand in hand with the growth of modern trade in these areas," noted ACNielsen's chief marketing and client service officer, Tom Markert. "In some [markets], where the retail landscape is highly fragmented, a lot of shoppers are only just getting used to visiting supermarkets and hypermarkets regularly for their groceries, and private label is still a relatively new concept for them."
Pacific and North American shoppers (both at 81 percent) were the most likely to rate private label brands an extremely good value for the money. They also saw eye to eye on quality, with 72 percent in North America and 70 percent in the Pacific saying that private label quality was "at least as good as the usual big brands."
Europe was just behind, with 73 percent agreeing on value for money and 68 percent on quality. In Meanwhile 67 percent of Latin American consumers considered private label an extremely good value, and 64 percent believed the quality of such products to be comparable with the big brands. Finally, 59 percent of Asian consumers thought private label products were an extremely good value, while 49 percent said that the products' quality rivaled that of the larger brands.
When asked whether there are some products, particularly, "where quality really matters," and where private label isn't suitable, a worldwide average of 40 percent assented, with Latin Americans (51 percent) and Asians (48 percent) in the lead. Even in highly private label-developed regions, two in five Pacific consumers, or 41 percent, said that there were certain products unsuitable for private label. At the bottom of the scale 27 percent of North Americans and 35 percent of Europeans believed some products weren't suited to private label.
When asked if they thought private label products were "meant for people on tight budgets who can't afford the best brands," a worldwide average of 34 percent agreed. Broken down by region, Asian consumers, at 46 percent, were most likely to agree with the statement, while North Americans, at 20 percent, were least likely.
"Partly this could be attributed to a lack of understanding about retailer brands in many of these developing markets," said Markert. "In Malaysia and Taiwan, for example, nearly half of respondents also agreed that they didn't know enough about them to want to try them."
The findings come from the twice-annual ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence Survey, the largest global survey of its kind, which measures consumers' current confidence levels, spending habits and intentions, and other topics of importance to the CPG industry. The study, which was conducted online in May, polled more than 21,100 respondents in 38 markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All markets had sample sizes of about 500, except for China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, which had sample sizes of about 1,000. The survey's margin for error is plus or minus 3.3 percent to 4.4 percent.