Discovery Day Q&A: The Hartman Group

Shelley Balanko, SVP, The Hartman Group, talks with Store Brands about the company’s Brand Ambition study.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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On Dec. 14, Store Brands is hosting a virtual Discovery Day, a product and services pitch day, that also includes education from FMI - The Food Industry Association and The Hartman Group.

One of those speakers is Shelley Balanko, senior vice president, The Hartman Group, who will present findings from the company’s work on private brands, identifying trends and how they shape the future of private brands. 

Balanko will share insights from the group’s "Brand Ambition" syndicated research and spoke with Store Brands below to preview the session.

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Shelley Balanko

Registration to attend Discovery Day is free for retailers. Companies such as Natural Grocers, Southeastern Grocers, The Fresh Market, Smart & Final, Tops Friendly Markets, Hammer Williams, Stater Brothers, Lowe's and gopuff are set to attend. Companies interested in sponsoring and getting a slot for a three-minute video pitch can go here.

Store Brands: First, tell us about The Hartman Group and how long it’s been studying the private brand space.
Shelley Balanko: We have been studying private brands since the company was founded in 1989. However, we did our first full syndicated study on private brands in 2010 and have addressed the topic in other studies since, such as our Food Sourcing in America and Organic and Natural syndicated research series, and now we dedicated a full syndicated study to the topic in 2021 with Brand Ambition.

SB: What’s the mission of that study?
SB: The Hartman Group’s Brand Ambition: Food and Beverage Private Brands & Beyond study examined how trends in the American cultural landscape have affected the role brands play in consumers’ food lives today and it was designed to provide future-looking guidance in several areas such as: pricing, attributes, innovation and operating in today’s online environment.

The study then took a deeper dive into the world of private brands: the role they play in consumers’ grocery repertoires, comparisons to name brands across a range of purchase criteria, perceptions of value-oriented vs. premium/organic/better-for-you private brands, and the flow of mutual benefit between retailers and their private brands.

Click here to register

The study methodologies were quantitative and qualitative. An online survey was fielded in May 2021 to a nationally representative sample of U.S. primary shoppers ages 18-75. We also conducted a one-week engagement (journaling, special prompts, photos, and videos) with participants across the U.S. using an online research platform, paired with in-depth, follow-up virtual interviews with a subset of participants.

SB: What’s one key finding that you can share a little about and that we’ll hear more about during your session?
SB: A key finding that I’ll expound on during the presentation is that brand is less of a purchase driver than one might expect. We found that consumers are more attribute focused in making food and beverage decisions and this puts name brands and private brands on a more equal playing field.

Balanko’s session will close out the brief event on Dec. 14. For questions on participating in the event, contact [email protected].