Good value icon on grocery shopping bag

Private brands now offer consumers a strong, competitive option that not only is cost-effective but also often taps into modern notions of healthy, high-quality foods and beverages. According to The Hartman Group’s Brand Ambition: Food and Beverage Private Brands & Beyond report, consumers recognize the dramatic evolution of private brands over time and their ability today to provide foods and beverages highly competitive with name brands.

While some shoppers can be quite savvy about private brands and might lean on them consciously in their shopping choices, many simply do not think along the lines of name bands versus private brands.

This phenomenon is more common with private brands that do not explicitly align with the name of their retailer. Our Brand Ambition report finds that 22% of shoppers of retailers with private brands don’t know their store offers one — they aren’t sure or say it does not.

Consumers no longer view private brand offerings as an automatic downgrade. Private brands now can, and do, compete effectively in areas of traditional name brand strength as well as those of increasing importance to consumers (e.g., convenience or sustainability).

In a direct comparison of brand types, consumers say that private brands:

  • do an equally good job as name brands on low prices (29%) and good value (34%)
  • do a better job than name brands on low prices (42%) and good value (36%)

The Evolving Consumer Understanding of Value

Notions of “value” — what it is and how it is expressed — has changed in some crucial ways.

The Hartman Group’s New Value Paradigm is a consumer-derived framework that breaks out the various considerations that consumers use to assess value across six different facets. The current research highlights the interdependent nature of these facets rather than any hierarchy or ranking.

  • QualityThe Hartman Group New Value Paradigm
  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Quantity
  • Relevance
  • Experience

Understanding how consumers assess the value of individual products, entire retailers or any type of brand has evolved from older approaches that assumed price and quantity were at the top of every consumer’s mind to a more nuanced view today.

As consumers shop more by product attributes and rely less on brand as a heuristic for value, the six facets of value and their interlocking relationship play a larger role in decision-making.

Consumers described to us what it means to deliver “good value,” and they expressed this evaluation in similar ways for both name brand and private brand products.

“A good value first and foremost has to have a decent price. I just want something that's comparable to what's being sold in that category. And a good value would be something that has a different taste than other items in the same category.” – Luis C., M, 27

“It’s getting something that is not a lot of money, but it’s good. It has to taste good. It has to perform at the level you want it to perform, which is it has to fill me up. And it’s a good bang for the buck.” – Laura A., F, 58

“A good value, it’s not just price. It has to be something that is good quality at a reasonable price. I will definitely spend more for something that is a better product, so that could be value. It’s not necessarily price.” – Walter H., M, 63

“[A good value] has the flavor that I'm looking for and it's going to provide the function that I need. It’s going to be at the right price. And it's just going to be a straightforward product. It's not going to make promises that it’s going to make me a cook or chef.” – Nelly L., F, 53

The Bottom Line

Business leaders must develop a culturally informed and nuanced perspective of value as they brace for changes to the landscape and adapt their strategy. A private brand that consistently demonstrates its value to consumers can bolster trust in the retailer and drive traffic to its stores or website; by the same token, a retailer consumers trust can expect its customers to be more confident about its private brand.

Learn more about our Brand Ambition report here