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The Illusion of Choice in Consumer Brands

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The Illusion of Choice in Consumer Brands

The Illusion of Choice in Consumer Brands

Explore the full-size version of the above graphic in all its glory.

If today’s infographic looks familiar, that’s because it originates from a well-circulated report that Oxfam International puts together to show consolidation in the mass consumer goods industry.

We are sharing it because we believe it is important for you to be aware of who is supplying the different brands and goods served on your dinner table.

Unlikely Links

The illusion of choice does not arise from the products we expect the companies to sell. We inherently know that PepsiCo sells plenty of beverages, including its flagship product. We know that Nestlé makes Kit Kat, Nesquick chocolate syrup, Nespresso coffee machines, and Nescafé instant coffee.

What is less obvious is that Nestlé makes Gerber baby food, Hot Pockets, DiGiorno pizzas, and Stouffer brand frozen foods. Nestlé even owns two competing brands of fancy, carbonated water: San Pellegrino and Perrier.

In fact, Nestlé has at least 29 brands with annual sales over $1 billion. The company literally has hundreds of different products in sectors ranging from pet food to soups and sauces. It’s the world’s largest food company by revenues, and it’s worth a whopping $240 billion in market capitalization.

They Might Be Giants

It’s not just Nestlé that is mind-boggling in size and scope.

Other companies such as Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, General Mills, Danone, and Mars are also massive. They each own dozens of brands that dominate certain product categories.

Want to buy crackers? Pick up some Ritz, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Air Crisps, or Premium brand crackers – but know they are all owned by Mondelēz (formerly Kraft Foods).

Buying a chocolate bar? There are seemingly hundreds to choose from, but its just the illusion of choice. They pretty much all come from Mars, Nestlé, or Mondelēz (which owns Cadbury).

There’s nothing wrong in buying from these brands, but remember that each dollar of your money is a vote. Vote for products and companies you believe in!

Note: the above graphic is about 1.5 years old, and it misses recent acquisitions or changes in brand ownership. For example, Power Bar is now owned by Post Holdings, another giant consumer foods conglomerate. That said, we believes the point of the graphic still comes across.

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Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

According to a representational poll of 18,228 Americans, these are the organizations considered to have the best and worst reputations.

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There is no shortcut to gaining a bulletproof reputation.

To get there, businesses not only need to think long term, but they also need to do what is considered “right” in every possible situation.

Aspiring companies must be truly customer-centric, going above and beyond in how they treat their customers. They also require a cohesive vision that helps create a loyal and fervent fanbase that will go to bat for them anytime it’s needed.

The Best and Worst Reputations in America

Today’s infographic from TitleMax highlights the 10 organizations that have the best reputations in the country, followed by 10 that fall on the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

In total, the visualization shows five years of data, so you can see how the rankings have changed over this stretch of time.

Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

As you can see, the reputations of organizations are very much in flux.

In fact, you can even see the impact of recent news cycles on the rankings for 2019.

For example, Patagonia shot up the rankings to become the #3 most respected company after donating its entire $10 million tax cut to environmental groups, while the U.S. government and Facebook both make an appearance on the worst list, thanks to recent negative media coverage.

The Best Reputations Over Five Years

If you haven’t heard of Wegmans Food Market, you might want to stop by a location the next time you’re in the Northeast.

With 99 stores and about $9 billion in revenue per year, this family-run supermarket chain believes that in order to be a great place to shop, it must also be a great place to work. This mantra must be effective, since Wegmans consistently ranks as having one of the best reputations in the entire country.

Also ranking high on the list is Amazon, which was founded as an “obsessively” customer-oriented company. The online retailer has taken the #1 spot in the rankings in three of the last five years, despite a generally negative sentiment hanging over tech giants in recent months.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

— Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com

The Worst Reputations Over Five Years

As Warren Buffett quipped, a reputation can be built over decades, but it can also be lost in just five minutes.

Various companies that have experienced recent scandals make the list here (i.e., Facebook, Volkswagen, Equifax). It’s also interesting to see that years after each scandal, rankings seem to normalize as the media and public get preoccupied with newer events.

Ranking Methodology

The ranking is based on a survey by Harris Poll, in which the 100 Most Visible Companies in the country are scored and ranked using a proprietary “Reputation Quotient”. For the 2019 edition, the poll had 18,228 respondents from a nationally representative sample.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Technology brands account for 20 of the world’s 100 most valuable brands in 2019, combining for a whopping 43% of total brand value.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Brand equity can be a challenging thing to build.

Even with access to deep pockets and an innovative product, it can take decades of grit to scrape your way into the mainstream consciousness of consumers.

On the path to becoming established as a globally significant brand, companies must fight through fierce competition, publicity scandals, changing regulations, and rapidly-evolving consumer tastes – all to take a bite from the same piece of pie.

Cream of the Crop

Today’s visualization comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it showcases the 100 most valuable brands in the world, according to Forbes.

Here are the powerful brands that sit at the very top of the list:

RankBrandBrand Value ($B)1-Yr Value ChangeIndustry
#1Apple$205.5+12%Technology
#2Google$167.7+27%Technology
#3Microsoft$125.3+20%Technology
#4Amazon$97.0+37%Technology
#5Facebook$88.9-6%Technology
#6Coca-Cola$59.2+3%Beverages
#7Samsung$53.1+11%Technology
#8Disney$52.2+10%Leisure
#9Toyota$44.6+0%Automotive
#10McDonald's$43.8+6%Restaurants

It should be noted that the list is ordered by brand value, a measure that tries to calculate each brand’s ultimate contribution in financial terms to the parent company. You can see that full methodology here.

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that brands with only a token representation in the United States have been excluded from the rankings. This means companies like Alibaba or Vodafone are not represented in this particular visualization.

Tech Rules Again in 2019

For another straight year, technology dominates the list of the 100 most valuable brands in 2019 – this time, with six of the top seven entries.

Most of these brands saw double-digit growth in value from the previous year, including Apple (12%), Google (27%), Amazon (37%), Microsoft (20%), and Samsung (11%). The one notable exception here is Facebook, which experienced a 6% drop in value attributed to various struggles around the company’s reputation.

Here’s a look at how industries break down more generally on the list:

Industry# of BrandsBrand Value ($B)
Total100$2,231.9
Technology20$957.6
Financial Services13$198.1
Automotive11$208.9
Consumer Goods10$123.8
Retail8$133.0
Luxury6$124.1
Beverages4$49.3
Diversified4$56.8
Alcohol3$69.8
Apparel3$34.7
Business Services3$33.5
Restaurants3$73.0
Telecom3$24.3
Heavy Equipment2$36.7
Leisure2$19.8
Media2$34.8
Transportation2$41.1
Tobacco1$12.6

As you can see, technology brands make up 20% of the list in terms of the number of entries – and a whopping 43% of the list’s cumulative valuation.

In total, technologies brands combined for $957.6 billion in value. Even when including Facebook’s recent drop, this is an impressive 9.7% increase on last year’s numbers.

Will the double-digit increases for the world’s largest tech giants continue into 2020, or are brands such as Amazon and Google going to start seeing the same type of pushback that Facebook has grappled with among consumers and regulators?

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