Parent are protective of their children — the two-legged and the four-legged kind. While half of American consumers switched from national brands to store brands for food, household, health and personal-care products, most are still reluctant to do the same for child- and pet-care purchases, according to research from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting.

A May 2009 survey of 1,530 American consumers revealed key differences for store-brand switching by category by asking consumers whether they had switched away from national brands to store brands in the preceding six months.

The survey found that nearly 60% of consumers switched to store brands for food, while almost half switched for health and personal-care products (48% for each).

However, the incidence of switching to store brands for pet-care (23%) and child-care (12%) products is significantly lower.


ICOM said that this pattern of switching means that consumers are willing to swap out national brands for less-expensive ones in categories where they see less risk or the possibility of exposing their loved ones to products that they perceive as inferior.

OTC Medication Switching
The "less-risk-means-more-switch" trend also revealed itself in the category of over-the-counter (OTC) medicinal healthcare items. With these products, survey responses show a direct correlation between severity and specificity of ailment and openness to switch, ICOM said.

ICOM said that less perceived risk by consumers is behind this brand-switching trend and that marketers in today's economy must understand the nuances in consumer behavior and the trigger points that are causing the switching.

For example, more consumers have switched to general OTC pain relievers than have switched for cough and cold remedies, allergy remedies or heartburn medications:

About the survey: ICOM's May survey was sent to 70,000 households nationwide. A total of 1,530 responded.