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Greeks turn to private-label and domestic brands in response to obstinately high prices

Photo: ANA-MPA


Greek consumers are increasingly turning to Private Label (PL) products as they strive to lower their supermarket bills in the face of persistently high prices, according to an annual phone survey conducted in January 2024 by the Marketing Lab of the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), using a random sample of 1880 households. There was also a marked movement in support of products made in Greece, the survey found, with consumers adopting a more mature stance and showing solidarity with domestic industry and employees.

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), Professor Giorgos Baltas reported that PL products now account for 36% of the household basket, up from 33% in 2023. “This is the highest percentage ever recorded in the 19 years we have been conducting the survey…The private label share of the basket of goods is well above 30% of the codes that go into the consumer basket. In other words, three in 10 products bought are private label,” he pointed out.

Up to 81% of those responding to the survey said they prefer Greek products over imported products when these were available. Additionally, 66% believe there is a shift by consumers toward products made in Greece, while 89% said they want packaging to indicate whether a product is made in Greece. Also, 65% believe that Greek products are safer and better quality, 93% believe that by choosing Greek products they support production in the country and 83% believe that choosing Greek products helps reduce unemployment.

Baltas said that the constantly rising pressure on household budgets since 2021 is changing purchasing habits, with the vast majority (90.3%) reporting that they are struggling financially as a result of higher supermarket prices. Consumers are turning to cheaper goods and restricting purchases, while half report that they buy only “absolutely essential” goods and one in 10 say that they cannot afford even the basics.

Asked to identify who was most to blame for excessive price hikes, the majority (68%) picked multinational companies, with big supermarket chains in second place (24.2%). A much smaller percentage blamed domestic manufacturers (6.9%) and very few blamed small shops (0.9%).

The survey also calculated the average amount spent at each supermarket visit, finding that this had risen 14.7% to 70 euros, from 61 euros the previous year. This increase reflects the increased cost of products due to inflation. Similarly, average monthly spending was 370 euros, up from 324 euros in 2023, while 75% of consumers spend up to 450 euros a month. The increase in spending reflects the rise in prices, which has been much higher in the specific sector than the general consumer price index.

Regarding which supermarkets they use, only 58% use one supermarket regularly, while the rest spread their purchases over several supermarkets and 93.2% use up to three different stores. The average number of visits to a supermarket is six a month, unchanged since 2023, with the majority shopping four times a month and 86% shopping up to 8 times a month.

Consumers are making additional efforts to avoid impulse buys, with 89.4% reporting that they have already decided what to purchase before they enter a physical or electronic supermarket, in efforts to more carefully manage their available income in the face of inflation. As regards choice of brands, 50.5% have decided in advance.

The survey also asked those responding to identify which are their key criteria when choosing products. The four top criteria were listed as quality, price, discounts and Greek origin, which have steadily occupied the four top spots in the annual survey. In their choice of supermarket, the survey showed that quality of merchandise, prices, discounts and ease of access were the most important.

Regarding the ‘Household Basket’ for lower-price goods, consumers appeared divided over its usefulness. The survey showed that 53.5% consider the measure useful and only 52.8% actually shop goods that are in the basket. However, the acceptance of the measure by one in two consumers, according to the survey, shows that its impact is not insignificant and that its implementation interests a large portion of consumers.