Below is the next guest post in our campaign to help the Private Brand community during these trying times. The post comes from Rick West, President, Field Agent.

Admit it. It’s on all our minds right now.

How will the coronavirus outbreak change shopper behavior and what will be the impact on private brands?

At Field Agent we regularly help private brands understand in-store conditions and shopper attitudes and we recently set out to understand the question about the impact of Coronavirus on their current shopping trips.

We started with the shoppers themselves. On March 24, 2020, we first asked 300 shoppers to describe ways they’re shopping differently as a result of COVID-19. Field Agent then sifted through all their free form responses and identified about 50 themes, which then became choice options on a much broader quantitative survey of 1,509 U.S. adults.

It’s worth noting that very few respondents to the initial survey mentioned private or store brands specifically.

So what did we learn that might have a bearing on private brands in the coronavirus age? Two things primarily:

First, 33% of respondents to the larger survey told us they have become somewhat less brand conscious since fears of the coronavirus—and resulting out-of-stocks, crowds, etc.—became a regular part of their lives. In other words, in many instances, shoppers are just grabbing whatever’s available in stores.

On the surface, this change could bode well for store brands—as shoppers right now may be less hung up on names than they were prior to the pandemic.

But, hold on. Let’s consider our second primary learning vis-à-vis private brands: 23% of shoppers surveyed said they’re less price conscious in the here and now. In other words, given the present retail environment, there’s less reservation about spending more money on purchases of groceries and household consumable.

Which, unlike the first finding, bodes less well for store brands and their traditional advantage over name brands: a better price.

So, for private brands, the crux of the matter may lie somewhere at the intersection of these two key learnings. How might less concern over brand and less concern over price combine and play out among shoppers in the wake of the coronavirus?

Time will tell.

Rick West is the CEO and Co-Founder of Field Agent, a global Work-On-Demand Platform. Prior to starting Field Agent, Rick worked 16 years with Procter & Gamble in various assignments in the United States, Hong Kong, and Bangkok Thailand. Since leaving P&G, he has been a start-up entrepreneur for 18 years. Rick has co-founded multiple start-ups, including the Northstar Partnering Group, CORE4 Research, JOYN and most recently Field Agent.