Consumer acceptance of own label is growing in the UK, Spain and France, and is expected to expand across Europe in the coming year

Own label has achieved unprecedented acceptance among shoppers, who say that they are more aware of the products than they were a year ago, according to a study of seven European countries conducted exclusively for PLMA by MORI.

The biggest increases in consumers who are more aware of own label were posted in the UK, Spain and France, according to MORI, and that is leading to a greater selection of products in these countries.

The research also found that consumers in The Netherlands and Germany, both of which have strong own label markets, were the most likely to increase their purchases of own label products over the coming year.

Brian Sharoff, president of the PLMA, says that Europe's retailers and wholesalers are at the forefront of the growing acceptance of own label.

"Own label now accounts for about four of every ten products sold in the UK, Germany and Belgium and about three of every ten products sold in France and Spain," he says. "Moreover, own label's market share is increasing across Europe."

The research also found that four out of ten shoppers across Europe would like their supermarkets to carry a wider variety of supermarket-branded products and that one quarter of all shoppers' baskets are made up of such goods. More consumers said they were less likely to buy branded goods compared with a year earlier.

Own label's long-term future appears especially strong among consumers aged 25 and younger, who are by far the most ardent supporters of own label, the research found.

Throughout Europe, MORI also found that own label is winning the loyalty of more and more younger consumers who are turning away from more expensive brands because they are failing to meet expectations.

Another key finding on consumer attitudes is that the quality of own label products is now equal in importance to price, with consumers from all countries saying they demanded own label products to be of high quality.

According to ACNielsen, the future of own label is strong, with plenty of room to grow in both Europe and on an international scale. The market research company is compiling data on the share of own label in different countries for PLMA's 2006 International Private Label Yearbook, which will be presented at a seminar to be held on May 29. It will be publishing its findings after the show.

The company says that own label products have evolved into strong brands in their own right and in many cases are challenging the once-dominant premium manufacturer brands.

ACNielsen further predicts that with retailers mounting aggressive advertising campaigns to promote their proprietary lines, the differentiation between own label and manufacturer brands will continue to fade and that consumer acceptance of the former will rise.