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Middle classes biggest consumers of supermarket 'own brand'

A new study has revealed that, contrary to popular belief, middle classes are the largest consumers of supermarket 'own brand' produce; with 48% claiming they will always choose a supermarket label when possible.


Middle classes biggest consumers of supermarket 'own brand'

Website, commissioned a study uncovering the myths surrounding supermarket snobbery. Whilst many stereotypical views would pinpoint 'own brand' produce as the primary choice for lower income earners, the research has revealed that almost half (48%) of middle classes prefer own brand produce to its commercial counterparts.

Respondents were initially asked to place themselves within salary brackets, defined as follows: £0 - 24 K (lower income), £24- 50K (middle income), £51 K + (high income). They were then asked a series of question relating to their own grocery decisions.

When asked the question, "What is the most important factor behind your choice of supermarket?" 37% of middle class respondents claimed that they would only shop in a supermarket they deemed more "socially reputable," with Sainsbury's and Waitrose topping the popularity poll amongst them. Of these, two thirds (62%) claimed that the main motive was due to a fear of being judged financially on where they shop. In contrast, only one sixth, 16%, of low income earners considered reputability as a deciding factor; the main motives behind supermarket choice amongst participants from this income bracket being distance (42%) and quality of produce (29%).

Almost half, 48% of middle classes polled claimed that they regularly buy "own brand" produce whenever possible; with 10% of these claiming that they endeavour to avoid buying commercial brands. Three fifths, 62%, admitted that this was due to financial frugality, with only 12% claiming that they believed "own brand" produce was of a better quality. In addition, 14% of those who bought the supermarket brands claimed that they would not want their friends to know.

In comparison, of the lower earners who responded, only 26% claimed to regularly buy own brand produce. Of these, just 28% explained that this was due to money saving; with the majority (41%) labelling preferences of taste as the main reason.

Mark Pearson, food expert at, had the following to say about the findings:

"It comes as no surprise to me that middle earners have been exposed as the largest buyers of supermarket "own brand" produce. 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; shunning the initial prejudices that often lead to their choice of supermarket.

“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. The fact that they're usually cheaper is normally down to nothing more than a lesser need for profit on the mark-up price, and is not necessarily a slur on the quality of the product."

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