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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Supermarkets No Longer Treat Generics as the Shame of the Cart

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 8:11 AM

click to enlarge This was what generic food looked like in the 1970s. - ROADSIDE PICTURES/FLICKR
Grocery chains have been rebranding their generic store brands for a decade or two now with flashier packaging and better names -- Whole Foods' 365, Safeway's O Organics -- but a new story from Bloomberg Business Week/SF Chronicle reports that the chains are now initiating large-scale marketing campaigns around these brands, too.

Maybe it's the recession, maybe it's the Trader Joe's effect -- article after article have ferreted out the brand-name manufacturers behind the Trader Giuseppe's/Trader Jose's labels, giving shoppers the idea that they're not sacrificing quality. More and more supermarkets are displacing brand-name products to devote shelf space to their own products. And the strategy's working, the article reports:

As of mid-November, store brands accounted for 31.4 percent of the 14,400 new food and beverage items introduced in the United States this year, according to market researcher Packaged Facts, based on data from Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics. That's double the share logged in 2010 and up from just 8.7 percent in 2009.

Are American shoppers simply being ultra-price-conscious? Or are we shifting our brand allegiance from products to stores? Who knows, perhaps one day the old black-and-white cans SFoodie used to shrink away from in the stores will be hailed as populist, minimalist chic.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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