Have a break, have a copycat: the supermarket misleaders

 

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery – but it’s proving more than a little confusing for shoppers looking for their favourite brands.

Supermarkets have been accused of  tricking consumers into buying own-brand products by making them look like household labels.

Which? claims that retailers have been “free-riding” on the reputations of brands by mimicking the packaging of better-known producers of biscuits, cereals and bath products.

One-in-five shoppers had accidentally bought a supermarket version of their favourite brand, according to the consumer watchdog. An investigation by the consumer group found that more than 150 supermarket own label products had “borrowed” elements from the packaging of branded competitors. They included McVitie’s Digestives, Kellogg’s Coco Pops, Simple cleanser and wipes, Radox bath gel and Jacob’s Cream Crackers.

Packaging consultant Mark Shayler said Aldi’s version of the cream crackers used the same colour scheme as Jacob’s with an almost identical design.  He said: “Retailers use this copycat packaging to reassure customers that their product is of a similar quality to the brand leader. There’s also the possibility of confusing customers so that they buy the own-label product instead.”

The Which? survey found that products in Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco appeared to have borrowed from leading brands. It said Danish Lurpak butter seemed to have “a recognisable own-label imitator” in most major supermarkets.

British Brands group director John Noble said: “Currently in the UK there is little to stop a competitor packaging its product to look like a familiar brand, whether or not the product’s performance is in any way similar.”

The cosmetics retailers Boots and Superdrug also stocked products that looked “very similar” to leading brands, Which? said. One-in-three of more than 2,000 shoppers surveyed told the watchdog that they “felt misled” after buying an own brand product by mistake. The survey comes as own-brand products are becoming increasingly popular with customers, with retail analysts claiming the catalyst for their increasingly popularity are the economically-strained times.

Industry experts have said that many retailers allowed small independent companies to “take risks” with new products, then replicated them in a cheaper own-brand format if they are successful.

In response to the Which? survey, Boots explained the similar packaging by claiming colours used could be synonymous with active ingredients.

Morrisons, Superdrug and Aldi all said retailers used the same colours as branded products in order to help shoppers find products quickly.

“Retailers should make sure that people are under no illusions about what they are buying and not leave so many consumers feeling that they have been misled,” said a Which? spokeswoman.

Top tricks: Trade secrets

Mimicking the packaging of popular brands is just one of a legion of tactics used by supermarkets to keep shoppers shopping and spending.  Others include:

* Keeping sweets and snacks near the checkout where shoppers are tired and hungry and will be likely to make an impulse purchase. 

* Shelves are stacked tactically with the most expensive items often at eye level and bargains tucked away out of sight.

* The layout of supermarkets is also carefully planned. Fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy are all placed around the outer limits of the store, with pre-packed, processed and frozen foods at the centre. That means shoppers must pass through the “unhealthy sections” to buy products needed for a balanced daily diet.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
News
news
Sport
Lewis Hamilton with the Santander trophy after winning last year’s British Grand Prix
F1It's the race organisers who are to blame, apparently
News
peopleFormer Disney CEO isn't going to win any fans with this quote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test