Consumers are ditching their preference for expensive brands and opting for own-brand goods in supermarkets instead as the economic outlook continues to look bleak. Supermarket research conducted by ACNielsen Homescan found that general consumption of own-brand items had increased from 30 per cent to almost 50 since the beginning of the year. More than 90 per cent of households had purchased own-brand products in the first eight months of the year, it found. ACNielsen Homescan retail services director Fanny Chan Ying-fong said sales of own-brand items were generally higher during an economic slowdown, when families became more budget-conscious. She added: 'The growth and popularity of private labels is largely attributed to the retailers' significant investment into this area.' ParknShop marketing manager David Durnford agreed there was an increasing tendency for consumers to purchase own-brands, but he would not comment on the company's sales figures. 'There is a growing change in perception, with people pleasantly surprised in the quality and choice of our own-brands,' he said. A Wellcome spokeswoman said purchases for its No Frills and First Choice labels had increased by 'double digits over the previous year to date'. She added that consumption had increased because of the supermarket chain's 'expansion and emphasis' campaign designed to boost its own labels, which was improving customer awareness. ACNielsen Homescan classified the own-brand labels into two price categories - premium and regular products. Nearly 70 per cent of households had purchased premium products in the past eight months, while 76 per cent had bought regular items. The top five premium products were milk, biscuits, instant noodles, packaged rice and cooking oil. The most popular regular items were toilet paper, biscuits, washing-up liquid, liquid soap and tissues. 'It is definitely true that Hong Kongers are prepared to pay more on what goes into their mouths than on other items on their shopping list,' Ms Chan said. Hong Kong Island residents buy more own-brand goods than shoppers in Kowloon or the New Territories. ACNielsen Homescan used an electronic consumer panel for the research to capture grocery and household purchases directly from 1,000 homes.