Doing the groceries: in a context of inflation, how do consumers make their trade-offs between brands and private labels?

Throughout 2023, we conducted almost 150 in-depth interviews on the topic of price and brand perception. We are happy to share our insights with you. 

  • Inflation has hit hard; making in-store shopping experiences real emotional roller coasters - especially at the cash desk. The “FOSTM” factor (Fear of Spending Too Much) is constant. The simple pleasures of browsing and discovering have been suppressed.
  • Price has for many become an area of shopping fixation, of fear, tension rather than a game of outsmarting the system. Interestingly, whilst many shoppers have price as a high driver, even for frequent purchases, their actual knowledge of actual costs is limited. The emotions don’t fit with the facts – a powerful if paradoxical insight that both private labels and brands can exploit.
  • Private labels have gained power and built trust. They are being recompensed for being simple and making their mental processing easier.

Do brands still have legitimacy in this context?  Yes. They are very much alive but with a changing role, and a different hierarchy of benefits.

  • Above all, as sources of trust brands convey 1. much-needed re-assurance, stability, and then 2. pleasure, indulgence, and ultimately 3. the permission to dream. Powerful emotions that we all need especially in times of uncertainty and disillusionment.
  • Brands pre-date COVID and current polycrises. They are tinged with innocence, are constant companions in our lives, our biographies, awaken childhood memories. And we all need orientation, robust anchors when everything is in transformation.

Have a look at how consumers make their trade-offs between brands and private labels. 

We hope that you enjoy reading our report and find it useful.

Discover the insights of our Séissmograph 2023!


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