Private label brands transforming how Canadians shop

More Canadians choosing brands like Sobeys' Compliments

MISSISSAUGA, ON, July 7 /CNW/ - More than 80 per cent of Canadian grocery shoppers say they purchase private label brands such as Sobeys' leading Compliments line, a new public opinion survey reveals.

Private label products are gaining in popularity among consumers across Canada because they offer equal or better taste and quality when compared to leading national brands while saving shoppers money, according to the spring consumer trends poll for Sobeys by Harris/Decima. In total, 49 per cent of Canadian shoppers purchase private label brands frequently and 34 per cent say they sometimes purchase them.

"Sobeys recognizes that Canadians are not only looking for competitive prices, but also for quality products that they can trust to feed their families. That's why we continue to respond through our Compliments private label assortment by offering a wide range of products that provide extraordinary value to our customers," said Belinda Youngs, Chief Marketing Officer for Sobeys Inc. "In fact, all of our targeted private label lines under the Compliments brand, including Organics, Balance, Sensations and GreenCare provide quality products at prices that translate into real savings for consumers. They are also carefully developed to ensure we are meeting the changing needs of consumers and responding to consumer trends."

In total, 58 per cent of Canadians who purchase private label products frequently say they are less expensive and offer their families greater value. And 48 per cent of frequent private label buyers said they feel the products are comparable, or better, in quality than national brand names.

While the survey showed that canned goods (71 per cent), household products (62 per cent), frozen foods (54 per cent) and staples (53 per cent) continue to be popular private label choices for shoppers, Canadians are increasingly choosing private label products in categories like dairy (49 per cent), fresh produce (48 per cent), fresh meat (48 per cent) and fresh baked goods (45 per cent). On the pulse of consumer demands, Sobeys has recently launched products in all these categories including Fresh Salad Kits, a variety of Fresh Pesto flavours, and Sundried Tomato & Basil Goat Cheese Crumbles, all under the Sensations by Compliments label. Consumers are trading up on certain categories and looking for private brands to provide premium quality at great prices.

Private label brands emerged in the 1980s as a low-cost alternative to national brands, but in recent years some private label offerings such as Sobeys' Compliments line have become more developed, giving consumers a broader, more inspiring range of high-quality choices at affordable prices. Private label brands are most popular in Quebec and Ontario, with 54 per cent and 51 per cent respectively saying they purchase them frequently.

Sobeys sets the highest standards for its Compliments-branded private label products. All undergo testing by sensory-trained customer panels to ensure that the products meet consumers' needs in terms of quality and taste, as well as passing Sobeys' own internal quality standards. This passion for developing outstanding food products is being recognized by Canadian consumers, with Compliments products recently winning Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards and 2010 Best New Products Awards.

There are even more private label offerings in store for Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods customers. Shoppers who visit these Sobeys Inc. banners over the next 18 months will be introduced to several hundred new private label that appeal to various consumer food and entertaining needs, budgets, and lifestyles.

For more information please visit www.sobeys.com, www.compliments.ca, or Sobeys on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Sobeys.

About Compliments

Launched in 2005, Compliments, Sobeys Inc.'s private label offering, represents a winning combination of quality, price and exceptional food experience for shoppers. This is achieved through innovative practices such as Sobeys' Sensory Taste Panel made up of everyday consumers trained to develop and assess each new Compliments product brought to market.

The Compliments portfolio includes Compliments, Sensations by Compliments, Compliments Balance, Compliments Organic, and Compliments GreenCare. The entire Compliments line boasts more than 5,000 products and can be found at Sobeys, IGA extra, Thrifty Foods, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper, Marché Bonichoix, and Les Marchés Tradition banners. More information on Compliments products can be found at www.compliments.ca.

About Sobeys Inc.

Sobeys Inc. is a leading national grocery retailer and food distributor headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP.A), Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,300 stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods, as well as Lawtons Drug Stores. Sobeys Inc. is committed to providing the most worthwhile experience for its customers, employees, franchisees, suppliers and shareholders. More information on Sobeys Inc. can be found at www.sobeyscorporate.com.

About the survey

The data was gathered from April 29th to May 2nd, 2010 through Harris/Decima's weekly teleVox, the company's national omnibus survey. A representative sample of 1,008 Canadians were surveyed. The margin of error is +/-3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

SOURCE Sobeys Inc.

For further information: For further information: Media contact: Janessa Bishop, Fleishman-Hillard Canada, 416-598-5774, Janessa.Bishop@Fleishman.ca


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