Consumers’ own-label attitudes could pose a challenge to big brands

Stephan Shakespeare
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Morrisons Launches Price Match  Scheme
Morrisons is gearing up to revive the Safeway brand (Source: Getty)

Last week, Morrisons announced it was bringing back the Safeway brand. Originally a chain of supermarkets that the retailer absorbed in the mid-2000s, Morrisons has decided to launch a new range of own-label goods under the Safeway banner.

An analysis of YouGov Profiles data shows that there are notable divergences among customers of certain supermarkets.

While only around a quarter of Aldi (25 per cent) and Lidl (24 per cent) customers prefer well-known brands over own-label products, the figure rises to almost six in 10 M&S shoppers (59 per cent).

Read more: Morrisons fires the gun on supermarket price war

The findings are mirrored when it comes to consumers who think that there isn’t much difference between leading brands and own-label goods.

The key question posed by this data is where does the push come from?

Is it from consumers choosing certain supermarkets because they like own-branded goods and certain retailers have a stronger proposition when it comes to these value products? Or does it come from retailers having a concerted push on own-label goods in an effort to persuade consumers to switch from branded alternatives?

If it is the former then these attitudes may not affect brands too much as there’s a high chance that they will stick with their established habits.

Read more: Former Sainsbury's boss thinks your weekly grocery bill's about to jump

However, if it’s the latter – and the thing that tips consumers from the branded to the unbranded column is simply exposure to the products – then brands could be facing a bit of a challenge. Morrisons’ resurrection of Safeway for its own-brand offering seems to be a signal that supermarkets are gearing up for a big push on these types of product.

Such a move makes sense. Not only would it lead to increased margins but it would also hand them notable bargaining power when negotiating with suppliers, something of increasing importance to consumers in light of recent inflationary pressures.

It seems that many supermarkets believe consumers are on their side on this issue – and our data suggests that for most retailers they are.

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