Consumer Buy-​Down Behavior Prompts Marketers to Keep Advertising

More than one study has highlighted the continued trend regarding consumer purchases of private label products. Though the recession officially ended over a year ago, analysts say that consumers are buying more private label products than ever before. comScore has regularly studied this trend and its latest report on the topic indicates that marketers will be turning to new strategies to appeal to brand-​conscious consumers.

Consumer interest in private label brands continues to grow. About 18.5% of products purchased are now private label, which is a significant increase from the 16.4% level in 2007. To learn more about shopper attitudes, comScore analysts have asked consumers over the past 4 years if they buy the brand they most want. This year, only 43% of consumers agreed they did so. In 2008, 54% of consumers agreed.  The purchase frequency of desired brands has dropped most significantly in specific categories since 2008:

  • OTC cough/​cold/​allergy: ‑17%
  • Health/​beauty aids: ‑13%
  • Apparel: ‑12%
  • Food: ‑11%

On  a positive note, analysts pointed out that jeans and small appliances experienced some improvement in 2011 with respect to the number of consumers saying they buy the brands they most wanted.

Not surprisingly, the chief reason consumers give for buying private label is price.  They say they buy less expensive brands to save money, especially for the following product categories:

  • Mouthwash 20%
  • Cold/​cough/​allergy 21%
  • Facial tissue 21%
  • Paper towels 26%

Consumers are spending a lot of time these days comparing prices and for now, the Internet rules for all age groups except Seniors.  The 60+ age group remains the most committed to newspapers with 58% using that format to research prices. Well over 10% of all age groups are turning to traditional magazines and for the mobile Internet, Millennials lead the way with 15% checking apps or browsers for current pricing.

Analysts point out that premium brands must continue to advertise even as consumers watch their budgets. Doing so protects market share and enhances the brand’s position for the eventual bounce back. Analysts also noted that advertisers who aggressively marketed during the last recession experienced a 2.5 times increase in market share when compared to competitors once the economy recovered.

[Buy Down Behavior: 2011 Update. comScore. October 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.