Shoppers warned over rise in copycat packaging

By John Glenday | Reporter

April 12, 2013 | 2 min read

Consumer group Which? has published a list of 150 supermarket own-brand products which it says are sowing confusion amongst shoppers by aping the design, fonts and colour schemes of established brands packaging.

The watchdog says that by stealing the clothes of well-known products such as Pringles crisps, Jacobs cream crackers and Johnson’s baby wash retailers have been able to mislead the public into purchasing their own lower cost wares.

A fifth of Which? members are reported to have fallen for such sly tactics with 60 percent of those saying they felt annoyed and cheated after later realising their mistake.

Such ‘recognisable own-label imitators’ are now a common sight on supermarket shelves with some brands more badly affected than others, Lurpak butter for instance which sits in a sea of silver tubbed copycats.

Not everyone reaches for imitations in error however with 18 percent of Which? members actively seeking them out for their lower cost or to see whether the food tasted as good as the more familiar incarnation.

British brands group director John Noble said: "Our research shows that consumers are more likely to buy own-label products if they look like brands. Brands survive by being distinctive and standing out, and retailers are free-riding on brands' reputations.

"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. That can't be good if we want a market in which shoppers can make informed decisions at speed."

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