KUALA LUMPUR: Some 40% of Malaysians purchased more private-label goods in 2014 than they did the year before, with over half of them naming lower prices as the reason for their choice, according to a new survey of the country's shoppers.

A joint study of 843 consumers by Ipsos, the research firm, and SSI, the survey provider, also found that 25% of respondents believed the quality of branded and private-label goods to be on a par.

Some 18% said they still bought private label goods despite believing there was a difference in quality to branded alternatives, claiming that the potential savings made up for the shortfall in standard.

Nearly two thirds (65.6%) of respondents were willing to pay more for quality, while almost half (48.9%) would pay more for freshness and nearly a third (30.3%) would pay more for convenience.

"We inform our clients that their concerns about private-label brands should be directed at consumers who perceive little difference in quality between the two. 

"Our research shows that people are willing to justify paying a premium for better quality products, but the more they perceive less of a difference between the two, brands will start to struggle to keep their existing consumer base," said Katherine Davis, Ipsos's executive director for Malaysia.

Despite a growth in preference for cheaper, private-label goods, 56% of respondents said that their overall expenditure on shopping rose last year, compared to 2013, whilst 27% reported their spending was unchanged and 13% claimed it had fallen.

"The rise in inflation from 2013 (2.1%) to 2014 (3%) appears to have impacted those with an inconsistent or single income the most, as the money does not stretch as far as it used to.

"Given that a large proportion of a Malaysian household is spent on food, inflation may be pushing consumers to consider the cheaper private-label brands and to spend less on non-essentials," Davis suggested.

Data sourced from Malay Mail Online; additional content by Warc staff