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01/31/2013

Most consumers brand agnostic

A new survey-based study performed by Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon Worldwide and The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., found that consumers are open-minded when it comes to brands, as desires for new experiences often replace brand loyalty — at least on occasion. In fact, “Reframing Retail through the Lens of Changing Food Culture” — the report detailing the study’s findings — says 56 percent of consumers have become “brand agnostic,” saying they don’t care if a product is offered under a national brand, store brand or specialty brand. And 67 percent said they choose products according to a whim or desire for variety rather than brand affinity.

In general, consumers neither avoid nor seek out particular kinds of brands, as long as the product fulfills their desire for something other than the usual fare, the report says.

“To stay relevant, category brand managers need to accommodate innovation that supports a continual pipeline of new and improved products and services,” the report explains. “This doesn’t necessarily mean reinventing the wheel. Instead, it could involve making a familiar product new, with the addition of a fresh ingredient or meal accompaniments that offer something different without the risk.”

The report also notes that most consumers (62 percent) want to shop where they always can find unique products. But the right product mix is critical. Shoppers expect retailers to be “good curators,” and to carry what they want and omit what they don’t want.

According to the report, only 16 percent of shoppers claim they don’t choose a store based on what it does or doesn’t carry, and 34 percent actually avoid stores that carry a large number of products they normally don’t buy.

“Therefore, having the right product mix for target consumers is crucial for successful retail operations in such a competitive market,” the report says. “But this is not enough to stand out as a favored retailer. That requires becoming a curator — a retailer that understands what the proper mix of products and brands should be, what represents high quality, what makes up a good shopping experience, and the importance of knowledgeable staff.”

Among reasons for shopping a specific retailer, “the overall quality of products” had the highest vote (73 percent), the report says. Meanwhile, “the selection of national brands” was chosen by 56 percent of respondents, and “the selection of store brands” was chosen by 46 percent of respondents. “The produce department” and “the meat-seafood department” were chosen by 55 percent and 52 percent of respondents, respectively.

Virginia Morris, vice president, consumer strategy and insights with Daymon, noted that the “curation piece” is key to embracing the new eating culture of today and attracting occasion-driven consumers.

“It’s important to ask, ‘How am I — as a retailer or manufacturer — going to provide a curated experience with the right mix of products for my target shoppers?’” she told Private Label â?¨ Store Brands. “It’s not about [having] a ‘me-too’ approach. Seeking out local or relevant combinations helps you stay on pace with the eating culture. It’s important to embrace the new eating culture by keeping things fresh and relevant as consumers continue to enjoy the exploration of global cuisines.”

For more information, visit www.hartman-group.com or www.daymon.com.

— R. Hofbauer