IRI is out with a new Consumer Connect survey saying that “seven out of 10 millennials prefer stores that have a wide selection of private label products, and nearly as many (66 percent) often buy private label options over name brands.” It isn’t just millennials; the study shows that “consumers from all generations view private label as a way to save money and improve value without sacrificing quality.”

The study also suggests that the current economy has some soft spots, and that “31 percent of U.S. households are struggling to afford groceries in Q3 2017, in line with the same period in 2016 but up from 28 percent in Q1 2016.”

In addition, the survey found that “a full 59 percent of consumers from households earning under $35,000 per year and 36 percent of millennials are having difficulty affording groceries. As a result, 89 percent of these lower-earning shoppers and 90 percent of millennials are buying private label brands to save money. And 81 percent and 83 percent, respectively, will try lower-priced brands to save money compared with 73 percent of all consumers.”

IRI’s research shows that “two-thirds of consumers plan to purchase private label more frequently in the coming six months. Among millennials and lower-earning shoppers, three-quarters expect to buy more private label solutions during that time frame.:” In addition, the survey points to an increased focus on private label by companies that include Costco and Amazon, as well as the likelihood that expansion efforts by Aldi and Lidl in the US will grow private label penetration.

KC's View: The thing is, whatever the motivation for buying private label products, it always has seemed to me that they represent an opportunity for retailers to offer items that are uniquely theirs … and, if done right, items that are not just the equivalent of national brands, or alternatives to national brands, but products that even are distinct from and even better than national brands.