What’s new, copycat? How own-branded products confuse us
Have you ever bought a product in a supermarket thinking it was branded, but later realised you’d bought an own-branded product by accident? I wonder how much copycat branding actually confuses shoppers.
I may not be at my sharpest when I’m shopping, but I can usually tell what each product is. For example, I’m not likely to pick up a tomato under the impression that it’s a courgette.
So I was a bit stunned the other week when I arrived home and realised I’d picked up the shop’s own-branded bottle of shampoo, when I thought I’d bought the original branded version!
And it seems I’m not the only one, as there has been recent research on how similar packaging can cause confusion.
Do supermarkets have brands over a barrel?
You can see why shops would design their products to look similar to their branded equivalents – for more sales. But brands argue that their investment in product and brand identity is wasted if other brands can simply piggy-back on it.
Shoppers may actually welcome the lower prices that usually come with own-branded products. But then again, wouldn’t a shopper prefer to make that choice for themselves rather than feeling ‘tricked’ into it?
So why don’t brands fight back, and how do supermarkets get away with it? Well, there’s the interesting point that supermarkets now act as both poacher and gamekeeper. Not only do they put their own-branded products on their shelves, but most branded products can only make significant sales if they secure a place on those same shelves.
According to Planet Retail (PDF), own-branded products have 43% of the market, up from 39% four years ago, showing a significant lift in own-brand sales.
Have you ever accidentally bought a supermarket branded product thinking it was an official brand? Do you think it’s fair for supermarkets to design their own products to look similar to their branded counterparts?
If you find any convincing examples, email your photos to email@example.com and put ‘copycat packaging’ in the subject line!
What do you think about shops copying branded products?
I think it’s fine – they’ve never confused me (56%, 298 Votes)
I think it’s wrong – they shouldn’t piggy-back on other brands (44%, 227 Votes)
Total Voters: 531
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