July 5, 2022

Finance & Economy

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Are in-store grocery chain brands having a moment?

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We get the Consumer Price Index today, that will tell us where inflation is headed. With consumers becoming more cost-conscious, in-store brands are getting more attention from consumers.

Boston College professor Francesco D’Acunto is usually loyal to Italian brands of pasta and pasta sauce.

“And you know, just because of inertia, because I know the brands, I typically was using to buy those brands,” he said.

He’s from Italy after all – but recently, he made the decision to switch to a store brand, and he approved.

“I feel like exposed, I’m probably as happy as I was before of having my pasta … tomato sauce pasta,” he said.

In his research, he’s found consumers often trade from name brands to store brands based on the price changes they’re seeing every day.

“They form the way they think about inflation based on the prices they pay at the grocery store. They form their idea of inflation based on this little bubble, where they live,” he said.

Sometimes though, D’Acunto said store brands are actually produced by the same manufacturer as the name brand.

And according to Cornell business professor Kaitlin Woolley, the store brand isn’t always cheaper.

“People have that perception. And it’s not always the case,” she said.

Woolley said shoppers aren’t great at noticing price differences, and decisions can just come down to marketing.

“What’s kind of drawing your attention are the colors and the labeling and the logo and everything. And price is a small part of that,” she said.

According to data analytics firm IRI, the biggest in-store brand category seeing increases in market share right now are meat products like breakfast sausage and chicken.

But that’s not the end of it, said KK Davey with IRI.

“We anticipate that this trend will will carry over” to other grocery items, he said.

That means store brands in general could be having a moment, said Doug Baker with FMI, the food industry association.

“And that’s why in some instances, you’ll see retailers with several various private brands in their store, because they’re trying to meet specific needs,” he said.

He said all this attention presents an opportunity for grocery chains to create new store brand items, but with supply chain issues, stores are having challenges just keeping current offerings in stock. 

Are in-store grocery chain brands having a moment?