Purchasing of own label is growing across the grocery industry, but shoppers remain unconvinced about it in the symbol group sector, according to new research from HIM.

More than one in four shoppers (27%) are buying more own label products compared to a year ago, according to the research, with 22% saying they expected to buy more in the next 12 months. However, while 35% of shoppers are currently buying own-brand in multiple-owned c-stores, the figure drops to 11% in symbol stores. Consumer awareness of own-label is much lower in the c-sector, and a higher proportion of shoppers also switch to own label at the point of purchase in supermarkets compared to c-store shopping trips, says HIM.

Spar is the highest-ranked symbol own-label with an average score of 6.12 out of 10 for quality, still some way behind Waitrose at 7.75 and M&S at 8.13.

The research also reveals that females are more likely to buy own label than men, and that fresh meat and frozen food are the most popular own-label categories, with the lowest levels of penetration in health & beauty and alcohol.

“There is no doubt that shoppers are increasingly open to own label alternatives, but retailers and suppliers should be aware that various factors influence shopper behaviour,” said Katie Littler, insights director at HIM. “For example, credibility and purchasing levels of supermarket own label products is much higher than in convenience stores.”

“Shoppers also told us that although price is often the primary driver for own label over brand, they are increasingly making their decisions based on great taste and quality too.”

The study was produced as part of HIM’s Shop Waves research, which speaks to 500 UK adult shoppers every month.