Brand vs. Own-Label –
Why brand is best in the Food to Go sector

There’s no doubt that own-label products within the retail sector are on the rise – this was detailed in a recent Convenience Store article that looked at how the perception of these products has improved in the last couple of years.

However, in the Food to Go sector, brand labels are still very important to customers with more than 8 in 10 shoppers looking for a brand to provide assurance over freshness and quality[1]. The Food to Go sector is constantly expanding (IGD predicts sales to be worth £23.5bn by 2022) so it’s vital to consider the role of brands in changing the perception of this offering in the convenience channel in order to win more shoppers from coffee and retail chains.

With convenience, shoppers have put price at the top of their needs across most categories, but when it comes to Food to Go, quality, appearance and familiarity all out-weigh the price point in the minds of consumers. Not a surprise then that 89% of consumers on a Food to Go mission in the convenience channel are looking to buy a brand[2].

If you think about the traditional Food To Go competition like Gregg’s, Subways or even McDonald’s, it is heavily led by brand names, with consumers trusting and enjoying the branded choices available to them.

The URBAN eat range has demonstrated excellent results in the convenience sector, increasing sales by over 20% when replacing an own-brand – our brand quality and great on-shelf appeal has had a hand in this.

One of the key advantages brands have is the capacity to innovate. Traditionally private-label margins are smaller for manufacturers and subsequently creative innovation can only be funded and driven by brands. We’re always looking at new avenues to explore and as an example our URBAN eat Roots range contains nine different sandwiches and wraps to help retailers cater for the growing number of vegan and vegetarian diets – approximately 12% of the UK population now follow a vegetarian or vegan diet[3].

With the nutritional value of food more important for consumers than ever before, we developed the chilled URBAN eat ‘Eat Better’ range, which is packed with nutritious ingredients and caters for a variety of special dietary requirements, including gluten free, high protein, high in omega 3, and lower fat. It’s this innovation in products that can help brands standout on the shelves next to own-labels.

Of course, the increase in quality and choice of own-label products can only be a good thing to drive forward quality within the convenience sector. Food to Go in the Convenience channel is different though, with retailers having the opportunity to change perceptions with high quality products and innovative ranges available. Consequently, I believe brands remain best to secure sales in this sector.

– John Want, Marketing Director

[1] Adelie Foods / Relish Research 2016
[2] him! 2017
[3] Vegetarian society, 2016