Investigating the healthiness of food products on promotion: market brands and own brands

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Supermarket own brand (OB) products are gaining prominence in retail markets due in part to consumer concerns about food affordability, increased investment in private label product development, and the rising popularity of discounters. This study analyses an existing audit tool containing nutritional information about a variety of foods on promotion (n=6776) from eight retail stores in Northern Ireland (NI) in order to investigate the proportionality of market brands (MB’s) versus OB’s on promotion, and to compare the healthiness of MB foods versus supermarket OB foods on promotion. Product healthiness was measured using a score aligned to the Food Standards Agency’s Front of Pack nutrient labelling methodology. The data set was analysed to examine differences between international/national and regional MB’s, and premium, mid-market and value tiered OB’s. Results found a balance in favour of health (52.4% amber/green versus 47.6% red) across retailer’s promotions in NI. Further, OB products were often found to be superior to MB’s with regards to nutrient status, and international/national brands were found to be healthier than regional brands. These results provide evidence that consumers with less disposable income to spend on food can achieve a nutritionally adequate diet using OB rather than MB foods. Retailers primarily market their OB products as preferential to MB’s because of their price, this study’s findings however indicate that promoting product characteristics (nutritional profile) could also create competitive advantage. Regarding MB’s, regional MB’s in particular should consider the nutritional profile of their products in line with the increasing consumer trend for health.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransforming Retail Channels in the Digital Era: Marketing and Operations Perspectives
Subtitle of host publication5th Colloquium on European Research in Retailing (CERR 2020)
EditorsMarta Frasquet
Place of PublicationUniversity of Valencia, Spain
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-23403-5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2020


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