In recent years, price-sensitive grocery shoppers have decided that private label brands are as tasty and possess the same quality as national brands. But do they know which stores sell the various private label brands? The low levels of awareness for such food brands suggest they often don’t, according to “Women’s Retail Brand Awareness: Private Label Fashion, Food & Storewide Brands,” a proprietary study of 305 women shoppers in the United States conducted by EPM Communications, the parent company of Marketing to Women.

Brand Name Confusion

It is perhaps no surprise that retail giant Wal-Mart decisively wins the battle for women’s awareness of food brands.Wal-Mart carries the only two brands that at least half of women identify with the store that sells them: Great Value (52%) and Equate (50%). The mass merchandiser aims its advertising at price sensitive shoppers who are willing to try private label brands to save money.

Womens’ preconceived notions about stores contribute to their errors in identifying which retailers carry which private labels.

Their impression of Whole Foods as a supermarket specializing in natural and organic foods, for instance, leads them to believe that the retailer carries Safeway’s O Organics brand and Stop ‘N’ Shop’s Nature’s Promise label. In fact, they are more likely to believe that Whole Foods carries O Organics than they are to correctly identify Whole Foods’ own organic private label, called 365. Likewise, their notion of Wal-Mart as a value-driven retailer leads them to believe it carries Piggly Wiggly’s Value Time label.

Which Store Sells Looney Tunes Again?

Women are also confused by licensed brands Disney Magic and Looney Tunes. They are more likely to believe the brands are carried at retail powerhouses Wal-Mart and Target than at the regional chains that actually carry the brands, Kroger and Safeway. Both labels are relatively new, which may also be a contributing factor in their low awareness levels.

Married, middle-aged women are more likely than single young women to correctly identify which food brands are sold where. This is a result of their lifestyles: married, middle-aged women are more likely to prepare meals at home for their families, whereas young single women are more likely to eat out and are, therefore, less likely to grocery shop.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive because women with lower incomes are more likely to buy money-saving private label brands, the greater a woman’s annual household income, the more likely she is to know food brands. Women with lower incomes focus on price, not the name of the brand they are buying.  Women with higher incomes have the leeway to compare brands as well as prices.

“Women’s Retail Brand Awareness: A Survey Of Private Label Fashion, Food, and Cross-Category Brands,” Web. (via EPM Communications: Marketing to Women, Mar. 2010.)