Oracle study finds shoppers buying more private brands and sticking with them

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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A new survey by Oracle Grocery Retail finds more shoppers exploring private brands amid COVID-19 and expects the trend to continue beyond the pandemic.

Oracle recently rolled out technology with FoodChain ID and its HorizonScan that aids retailers in finding food safety risks within their private brand food products.

The survey by the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company, however, looked at recent shopper behavior trends around private label buying, online shopping, stockpiling and more.

Thanks to product shortages on shelves early in the pandemic and creeping back in, Oracle found 86% of the shoppers surveyed said they had bought and explored a new store brand alternative recently. The study added that 32% of respondents “intend to stick with the store brands.”

The surge in private label purchases has become the unexpected silver lining of COVID-19 for grocers.
Mike Webster , SVP, general manager, Oracle Retail

Additionally, 34% said they will shop a mix of new finds and preferred brands going forward and only 20% will go back to their preferred brands.

"The surge in private label purchases has become the unexpected silver lining of COVID-19 for grocers," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail. "Consumers uninterested in trying something new were forced to branch out due to shortages and now plan to stick with their new finds. This allows grocers an opportunity to increase brand affinity with customers and, in turn, their margins."

The survey from Oracle polled 521 consumers in the United States in September 2020 about their coronavirus shopping habits and another 500 in November about plans for the holiday season.

Some of the trends here are no surprise with a continued surge in online buying.

Oracle found 53% of respondents in the U.S. have shopped online for groceries during the pandemic, with 37% stocking up more frequently online than in-store. More importantly,  93% of those surveyed said they plan to shop online for groceries post-pandemic, with 74% noting they will order groceries the same amount or more as they are doing currently.

Going into Thanksgiving, 21% of consumers said they plan to order groceries online, and 59% plan to head into the store. And delivery tends to lead the way in e-commerce grocery shopping, per the survey, with 72% saying they have groceries delivered to their home, 13% pick them up inside the store and 15% collect curbside.

Also in delivery mode, meal subscriptions gained interest recently. The survey found 22% of respondents already had a food or meal subscription they continued, while 10% already enjoyed one food or meal subscription service and added another, and 4% started a new food or meal subscription for the first time.

Lastly, despite an uptick in COVID-19 during the recent weeks and going into the winter, shoppers are worrying less about shortages of essential items. Just 28% of those polled said they plan to stockpile household essentials and pantry staples.