Do Americans Prefer Name-Brands or Store Brands? Well, That Depends.

New York , N.Y. – February 11, 2015 – We have all our favorite brands for at least some of the things we purchase for daily consumption, including both food and other household items. Whether we’re considering breakfast foods, soft drinks, pet food, or even paper products, Americans often have their preferences. But just how often do Americans reach for name-brand products over the store brand options available? That depends on exactly what they’re reaching for.

Americans tend to purchase name-brands for food and beverage products where flavor, arguably, differs more between brands. This at least seems to be true for a majority of Americans who default to name-brands when purchasing breakfast cereal (62%), carbonated soft drinks (58%), bagged snacks (58%), prepared frozen foods (56%), coffee (55%), and yogurt (54%). Additionally, pluralities buy name-brand fruit juice (49%).

On the other hand, when it comes to food and beverage products that are the blank slates of household staples, Americans reach for the store brand option. Majorities purchase store brands for milk (60%), frozen vegetables (51%), and cooking oil (50%); pluralities buy the store brand option for canned vegetables (48%), dry pasta (47%), and bottled water (40%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,276 U.S. adults surveyed online between November 12 and 17, 2014.

Wrapping up the food and beverage considerations, Americans are largely split on their brand buying habits when it comes to cheese (44% store brand vs. 48% name-brand), bread (44% vs. 46%), and frozen meats or seafood (39% vs. 41%).

Considering other types of household products, majorities of Americans purchase store brands for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs (60%) and paper products (51%), but rely on name-brand products for cleaning products (55%). For family members of a different persuasion, only the best will do, with pluralities opting for name-brand pet food (44%).

Demographic Divides

Not too surprisingly, in many instances, income differences coincide with brand choice differences, namely individuals from higher income households are more likely to purchase name-brands compared to those from lower income households. For all product types surveyed, with the exception of milk and prepared frozen foods, those with an income of $100K or higher are more likely than those earning less than $35K to purchase name-brands for each product.

Differences exist among generations as well. In several cases, millennials are less likely to purchase name-brand products compared to their older counterparts.

  • Both Baby Boomers and Matures are more likely than Millennials to turn to name-brands for coffee (58% & 62% vs. 48%, respectively).
  • Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Matures are all more likely than Millennials to reach for name-brand paper products (47%, 46%, & 50% vs. 37%), dry pasta (46%, 46%, & 47%, vs. 33%), and frozen vegetables (37%, 39%, & 38% vs. 26%).
  • On another note, interestingly, Gen Xers are more likely than any other generation to choose name-brands for a number of categories: carbonated soft drinks (67% vs. 53% Millennials, 58% Baby Boomers, & 54% Matures), cleaning products (62% vs. 51%, 55%, & 49%), and pet food (54% vs. 41%, 46%, & 29%).

Men and women have a few different preferences as well.

  • Women purchase name-brands more than men for many products: breakfast cereal (65% vs. 58%), yogurt (57% vs. 50%), pet food (47% vs. 41%), and paper products (47% vs. 40%).
  • On the other hand, women buy store brands more than men when it comes to milk (64% vs. 57%), OTC drugs (65% vs. 55%), food storage bags and other containers (58% vs. 49%), and frozen vegetables (55% vs. 47%).
  • Men show stronger name-brand preferences for dry pasta (46% vs. 38%) and OTC drugs (31% vs. 25%).

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TABLE 1

STORE VS. NAME BRAND SHOPPING – SUMMARY

For each of the following types of products, please indicate whether you typically buy name-brand products or store brand products (sometimes referred to as ‘house brand’ or ‘private label’)?

Base: U.S. Adults

Store brand/ House brand/ Private label products

Name-brand products

Something else

I don’t buy this

%

%

%

%

Milk

60

29

3

8

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs

60

28

4

8

Food storage bags and other containers

54

35

5

6

Frozen vegetables

51

34

3

11

Paper products (e.g., paper towels, toilet paper, tissues)

51

44

3

2

Cooking oil (e.g., corn, vegetable)

50

42

2

7

Canned vegetables

48

32

3

17

Dry pasta

47

42

3

8

Cheese

44

48

3

5

Bread

44

46

4

6

Bottled water

40

26

3

30

Frozen meats or seafood

39

41

4

16

Cleaning products

37

55

4

4

Fruit juice

29

49

3

18

Bagged Snacks (e.g., chips, pretzels)

29

58

4

9

Breakfast cereal

26

62

2

10

Prepared frozen foods (e.g., pizza, meals)

22

56

3

18

Yogurt

22

54

2

22

Coffee

18

55

4

24

Carbonated soft drinks

16

58

3

24

Pet food

12

44

3

41

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

PURCHASES STORE BRAND/HOUSE BRAND/PRIVATE LABEL PRODUCTS – SUMMARY

By Generation, Gender, and Income

For each of the following types of products, please indicate whether you typically buy name-brand products or store brand products (sometimes referred to as ‘house brand’ or ‘private label’)?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Income

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

$34.9K or less

$35K – $49.9K

$50K – $74.9K

$75K – $99.9K

$100K+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Milk

60

57

62

63

57

57

64

61

66

62

64

56

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs

60

55

61

64

66

55

65

62

64

64

60

55

Food storage bags and other containers

54

51

55

55

57

49

58

60

57

60

48

42

Frozen vegetables

51

55

52

49

47

47

55

57

57

54

40

45

Paper products (e.g., paper towels, toilet paper, tissues)

51

53

50

49

49

52

49

58

51

57

46

44

Cooking oil (e.g., corn, vegetable)

50

52

49

48

46

47

52

56

58

55

43

38

Canned vegetables

48

50

44

48

53

45

51

57

54

50

45

38

Dry pasta

47

51

47

44

41

41

52

58

53

50

36

37

Cheese

44

41

44

45

49

42

46

48

50

40

39

41

Bread

44

39

43

46

51

43

45

50

52

45

39

36

Bottled water

40

42

44

40

30

39

42

40

39

43

44

39

Frozen meats or seafood

39

42

36

38

37

39

38

44

42

45

34

29

Cleaning products

37

37

31

38

47

38

37

47

43

38

30

26

Fruit juice

29

30

29

28

29

29

29

37

34

33

22

21

Bagged Snacks (e.g., chips, pretzels)

29

33

24

29

24

28

29

39

31

31

22

20

Breakfast cereal

26

26

24

25

29

25

26

33

35

25

22

16

Prepared frozen foods (e.g., pizza, meals)

22

26

20

22

18

23

22

28

28

26

17

13

Yogurt

22

26

24

18

19

21

24

27

28

23

20

13

Coffee

18

15

19

19

22

17

19

26

21

19

12

14

Carbonated soft drinks

16

19

12

16

11

17

14

24

17

14

11

11

Pet food

12

16

12

10

9

14

10

16

15

14

6

10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 3

PURCHASES BRAND NAME PRODUCTS – SUMMARY

By Generation, Gender, and Income

For each of the following types of products, please indicate whether you typically buy name-brand products or store brand products (sometimes referred to as ‘house brand’ or ‘private label’)?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Income

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Male

Female

$34.9K or less

$35K – $49.9K

$50K – $74.9K

$75K – $99.9K

$100K+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Breakfast Cereal

62

60

64

62

62

58

65

54

53

61

67

73

Carbonated soft drinks

58

53

67

58

54

58

58

54

56

56

67

63

Bagged snacks (e.g., chips, pretzels)

58

53

66

57

59

57

59

50

53

55

70

65

Prepared frozen foods (e.g., pizza, meals)

56

53

63

53

60

54

58

54

50

56

66

59

Cleaning products

55

51

62

55

49

53

56

45

46

56

64

66

Coffee

55

48

55

58

62

52

57

46

52

56

61

61

Yogurt

54

54

55

54

49

50

57

46

47

56

59

64

Fruit juice

49

46

53

50

48

50

48

43

47

43

58

58

Cheese

48

46

51

48

44

48

48

43

43

51

56

52

Bread

46

44

49

47

40

47

45

41

36

44

53

53

Pet food

44

41

54

46

29

41

47

38

40

43

54

51

Paper products (e.g., paper towels, toilet paper, tissues)

44

37

47

46

50

40

47

36

41

38

53

51

Dry pasta

42

33

46

46

47

46

38

31

34

39

56

54

Cooking oil (e.g., corn, vegetable)

42

37

44

43

47

42

41

33

32

36

51

54

Frozen meats or seafood

41

36

48

43

39

42

41

37

38

40

51

47

Food storage bags and other containers

35

34

36

37

35

37

34

27

27

33

42

51

Frozen vegetables

34

26

37

39

38

35

33

28

28

29

48

42

Canned vegetables

32

27

36

32

34

34

29

26

25

28

37

39

Milk

29

31

28

25

33

30

27

29

24

27

28

31

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs

28

28

29

27

27

31

25

24

19

25

31

37

Bottled water

26

28

30

24

20

29

24

22

22

24

28

35

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between November 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,276 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #11, February 11, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll