Middle income consumers trading down in UK

07 June 2010

LONDON: Many middle income consumers in the UK are continuing to trade down to own label products in an effort to save money.

A survey of 1,241 adults by MyVoucherCodes, a web portal providing access to discount vouchers, found 48% of middle class shoppers will "always" opt for store brands when possible.

Moreover, 10% of this audience, defined as people who earned between £24,000 ($34,977; 29,002) and £50,000 a year, consciously tried to "avoid" buying national brands.

For 62% of this group as a whole, such activity was motivated by the need to trim their expenditure, while 12% thought own label goods were of a better quality than more premium alternatives.

However, 14% of this segment agreed they "would not want their friends to know" about their purchases of products manufactured directly by retailers.

A further 37% stated they only visited supermarkets which they regarded as being "socially reputable", with Sainsbury's and Waitrose both on this list.

Within this, 62% of respondents said they did not want their personal situation to be "judged" by where they shopped.

In contrast, just 26% of consumers who claimed an annual salary of up to £24,000 bought store brands with a great degree of regularity, and only a quarter of this cluster did so because of price.

Elsewhere, 16% of participants inside this income bracket considered the "reputability" of retailers, compared with the distance they had to travel to stores on 42% and quality of products on 29%.

"Although stereotype would have us believe that own brand produce means a lack of quality, it seems that the middle class are more financially motivated when food shopping," Mark Pearson, founder of MyVoucherCodes, argued.

"Supermarket standards have risen to such that the quality of their own brand produce usually matches, and often exceeds, that of their more recognisably branded counterparts." 

Data sourced from MyVoucherCodes; additional content by Warc staff