Disappearing brands mean less choice on shelves

Established brands pushed off supermarket shelves by generic copycats

CHOICE says consumers are not imagining things when they think that familiar brands are disappearing from the two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths. 

A new investigation by the people’s watchdog shows how supermarkets use tactics including poorer shelf positioning and copycat packaging to advantage supermarket generic brands (‘generic brands’) over established labels.

“When two brands compete for space on the shelf, and when one of those is owned by the supermarket, it’s not hard to figure out who the winner is going to be,” says CHOICE spokeswoman, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE says for supermarkets and consumers, the move to generic brands can mean savings but this also means there is less room for independent suppliers’ brands.

“Feedback from CHOICE members indicates that shoppers are becoming more aware that generic brands, particularly those of the ‘big two’, are progressively replacing established labels,” says Ms Just. 

“For the consumer who is watching their budget, the rise of generic brands may be a good thing. For the shopper who wants an independent product however, their choices become more limited.”

Figures show that currently, about one in four supermarket products are generic and by 2016 that will be one in three.¹

Coles and Woolworths argue that brands are only removed from shelves because they are not selling well. However, CHOICE’s investigation highlights anecdotal evidence from independent suppliers who say they are put under pressure by the supermarkets, particularly in pricing and product placement.

“Because money talks, the shopper is the person with the power. If you go to a supermarket and your favourite brand of marmalade isn’t available any longer, tell the store or go somewhere else. If enough people do that, it may just reappear,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE says the rise of generic brands has been accompanied by copycat packaging, where some generic labels are almost identical to established products.

“The days of cheap and basic labels that readily identified generic brands are long gone. Nowadays, a generic label can look just like any other. In some cases, they’re almost copies.

“The generic labels are very effective, it is easy to mistakenly pick up generic brand products because they look just like established brands,” says Ms Just.

To test consumer opinions about the look of generic brands, CHOICE is inviting shoppers to visit www.choice.com.au/copyshop to vote on the generic label that most effectively ’copies’ an established label.  

“We’re on the brink of a big shift in what sits on supermarket shelves, so we want you to tell CHOICE if the rise of generic brands worries you or if you see it as a whole new world of better value,” says Ms Just.

To read CHOICE’s report into the rise of generic supermarket brands, visit www.choice.com.au/supermarketbrands.


Media contact:

Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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