Over 7 million Australians (41% of the population) buy margarine, whilst over 5.5 million (31% of the population) purchase butter with 19% buying both butter and margarine.
In both the margarine and butter category supermarket brands have a strong presence, commanding a high proportion of buyers. Although Flora is still the most popular margarine, Supermarket brand margarine products are now purchased by as many shoppers as Meadow Lea while supermarket brand butters are purchased by more shoppers than the leading stand alone brand - Western Star.
Brands of Margarine and Butter Purchased
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2010 – December 2010, n = 18,817.
Margarine buyers are older on average and more health conscious than butter buyers. In line with margarine’s ‘healthy heart’ image buyers tend to favour a low fat diet and show a preference for low fat milks and diet drinks.
The buyers of the two leading margarine brands, Flora and Meadow Lea, have a similar demographic and attitudinal profile. In comparison, Olive Grove buyers are more affluent and attracted to foods that are organic and additive free. Flora and Meadow Lea purchasers appear less concerned with ingredients and more focused on taste – 55% of Meadow Lea and 53% of Flora buyers agree with the statement “taste is more important than ingredients” compared to 43% of those who purchase Olive Grove.
When compared to margarine buyers, people who purchase butter love to cook (65% agree “people often compliment me on my cooking” compared to 58% of margarine buyers). Similar to Olive Grove buyers, butter buyers are more concerned about the ingredients in the foods they consume.
55% of butter buyers and 62% of Olive Grove buyers agree with the statement “I try to buy additive free food” compared to 48% of those who buy margarine.
In the butter category, Western Star (purchased by 10% of Australians) competes primarily with supermarket brands. Western Star butter buyers tend to be more brands focused and from a higher socio-economic background when compared to those who buy supermarket brands.
Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director at Roy Morgan Research, says:
“At first glance both the margarine and butter categories can appear homogenous and at risk of being seen as simply commodity products. However, Roy Morgan Research figures reveal that some of the leading brands’ success may be derived from their ability to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market.
“Olive Grove with its with its olive oil base, natural image and higher shelf price offers margarine buyers a premium alternative to the traditional brands such as Flora and Meadow Lea and as such attracts a more affluent, ingredient conscious buyer.
“Western Star butter distinguishes itself in terms of taste and quality, with its tagline ‘Pure Five Star Taste’, fostering a premium image. By sponsoring the 2010 ‘Master Chef’ season it positioned itself as the chef’s choice and an essential ingredient for the home cook. Like Olive Grove it attracts a more affluent buyer.
“With Coles using butter as one of the key products to underpin its ”Down, down, prices are down” campaign, brands of both butter and margarine will have to continue to find ways of differentiating themselves from cheaper home brand alternatives in order to survive.”
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