Canadians Opting for Private Label, Too: Survey

It’s not just Americans who are showing more interest in private label these days. According to a recent public opinion survey conducted by Harris/Decima for Canadian food retailer Sobeys, Inc., over 80 percent of grocery shoppers north of the border said they buy private label brands such as the grocer’s Compliments product line.

Such items are growing more popular among consumers across Canada because they offer equal or better taste and quality when compared with top national brands while saving shoppers money, the spring consumer trends poll found. In total, 49 percent of Canadian shoppers buy private label brands frequently, while 34 percent sometimes purchase them.

“Sobeys recognizes that Canadians are not only looking for competitive prices, but also for quality products that they can trust to feed their families,” said Belinda Youngs, chief marketing officer for Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys. “That’s why we continue to respond through our Compliments private label assortment by offering a wide range of products that provide extraordinary value to our customers. In fact, all of our targeted private label lines under the Compliments brand, including Organics, Balance, Sensations and GreenCare, provide quality products at prices that translate into real savings for consumers. They are also carefully developed to ensure we are meeting the changing needs of consumers and responding to consumer trends.”

In total, 58 percent of Canadians who buy private label items frequently said they do so because the products are less expensive and provide greater value. Additionally, 48 percent of frequent private label buyers said they believe the products are comparable, or better, in quality than national brands.

While the survey showed that canned goods (71 percent), household products (62 percent), frozen foods (54 percent) and staples (53 percent) are still popular private label choices for shoppers, Canadians are increasingly selecting private label products in such categories as dairy (49 per cent), fresh produce (48 percent), fresh meat (48 percent) and fresh baked goods (45 percent). In response to consumer demand, Sobeys has recently launched products in all of these categories.

From a geographical perspective, private label brands are biggest in Quebec and Ontario, with a respective 54 percent and 51 percent of residents of those provinces saying they buy such items frequently.

Over the next 18 months, Sobeys plans to introduce to several hundred new private label items to fit a range of consumer food and entertaining needs, budgets, and lifestyles. The Compliments private label line debuted in 2005.

The survey data was collected from April 29 to May 2, 2010, through Harris/Decima’s weekly teleVox, the company’s national omnibus survey.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Empire Co., Ltd., Sobeys owns or franchises over 1,300 stores in all 10 Canadian provinces under such retail banners as Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods, as well as Lawtons Drug Stores.

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