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Store vs. Name Brands Decision Depends on a Lot

NEW YORK — Whether Americans reach for name-brand products or store-brand options depends on exactly what they're reaching for, according to a new Harris Poll from New York-based Harris Interactive Inc., a Nielsen company.

Americans tend to purchase name brands for food and beverage products where flavor, arguably, differs more between brands, the consumer survey found. A majority of Americans default to name brands when purchasing breakfast cereal (62 percent), carbonated soft drinks (58 percent), bagged snacks (58 percent), prepared frozen foods (56 percent), coffee (55 percent) and yogurt (54 percent). Additionally, a large number of respondents said they buy name-brand fruit juice (49 percent).

On the other hand, when it comes to food and beverage products that are the "blank slates" of household staples, Americans tend to reach for the store-brand option. For example, 60 percent of respondents said they purchase store-brand milk, and 51 percent said they purchase store-brand frozen vegetables. Also making a strong showing on the store-brand side are cooking oil (50 percent), canned vegetables (48 percent), dry pasta (47 percent) and bottled water (40 percent).

Then, there are some product categories where Americans are largely split on their brand-buying habits. These include cheese (44 percent store brand vs. 48 percent name brand), bread (44 percent vs. 46 percent) and frozen meats or seafood (39 percent vs. 41 percent), Harris Interactive reported.

On the non-food side, majorities of Americans surveyed said they purchase store brands for over-the-counter remedies (60 percent) and paper products (51 percent). They rely on name-brand products for cleaning products (55 percent) and 44 percent said they opt for name-brand pet food.


Individuals from higher-income households are more likely to purchase name brands compared to those from lower-income households. For all product types surveyed, with the exception of milk and prepared frozen foods, those with an income of $100,000 or higher are more likely than those earning less than $35,000 to purchase name brands for each product type, the Harris Poll revealed.

Differences exist among generations as well. In several cases, Millennials are less likely to purchase name-brand products than their older counterparts. For example, Baby Boomers and Matures are more likely than Millennials to turn to name brands for coffee (58 percent and 62 percent vs. 48 percent, respectively), the research noted.

Additionally, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers and Matures are all more likely than Millennials to reach for name-brand paper products (47 percent, 46 percent and 50 percent vs. 37 percent), dry pasta (46 percent, 46 percent and 47 percent vs. 33 percent) and frozen vegetables (37 percent, 39 percent and 38 percent vs. 26 percent).

Interestingly, Gen-Xers are more likely than any other generation to choose name brands for a number of categories, including carbonated soft drinks, cleaning products and pet food.

Men and women have a few different preferences as well. Women purchase name brands more often than men do for many products, including breakfast cereal (65 percent vs. 58 percent), yogurt (57 percent vs. 50 percent), pet food (47 percent vs. 41 percent) and paper products (47 percent vs. 40 percent).

On the other hand, women buy store brands more often than men when it comes to milk (64 percent vs. 57 percent), over-the-counter drugs (65 percent vs. 55 percent), food storage bags and other containers (58 percent vs. 49 percent), and frozen vegetables (55 percent vs. 47 percent).

The Harris Poll involved 2,276 U.S. adults who were surveyed online Nov. 12-17, 2014.

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