Why Gen Z Loves Store Brands

Good & Gather is one of Target's private-label brands

Gen Z, always full of surprises, sees the supermarket differently than the rest of us. New research from the Private Label Manufacturers Association finds that these younger consumers, many newly out on their own, love physically shopping for groceries. And once they’re in stores, they’re eager to fill their carts with private-label products, which they increasingly see as a reflection of the retailers’ brand.

It's not that other brand-loyalty assertions about this cohort aren’t true. The PMLA research confirms they are as digitally astute and health, socially and environmentally conscious as previously reported. They’re upbeat, with 44% saying they are either optimistic or very optimistic about their future. And they are indeed actively seeking out authentic and transparent experiences.



It’s just that, unlike millennials and other older shoppers, they are more likely to believe store brands deliver on those values.

Gen Z does most of their food shopping in stores, and 41% say they find that experience very enjoyable. They are learning about food there, with 61% saying they see in-store shopping the leading source of product information, followed by social media, picked by 43%, and word of mouth, at 32%.

About two-thirds say they are very aware of store brands, with 64% saying they always or frequently buy such brands. Roughly half say they choose retailers based on their perception of store brand quality.

About 40% of respondents, which included more than 900 older Gen Z consumers, say private-label purchases make them feel positive about themselves. They use words like “valuable,” “reliable,” and “trustworthy” to describe their store brand decisions.

That’s a marked contrast to millennials at the same age. When PLMA polled that group 10 years ago, only 24% said trustworthiness was a consideration in buying decisions.

The survey found that while price and value are certainly on Gen Z minds when buying store brands, they also choose such products because of previous experience with the brand (28%), expected quality (25%), ingredients (15%) and sustainability (9%).

The survey also substantiates challenges in reaching these younger shoppers, who are fond of ordering restaurant meal delivery. Despite their grocery-store enthusiasm, they are considerably less likely to cook at home, with only 40% preparing five or more meals per week, compared with the 2014 millennial study, where 66% said they cooked that often.

And “cooking” takes on a different meaning for this convenience-driven cohort. Their favorite meal to prepare at home? Pizza.

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