To demonstrate the advantage iconic brands have over new products just consider the language you use in the grocery store. Instead of using the generic “soda,” chances are you default to “Coke.” For a runny nose you probably reach for a “Kleenex” rather than tissue.
Major corporations with decades of consistent performance in the marketplace are simply better trusted than an unknown from a startup. Think of the labels you associate with a given food to prove the point. Heinz for ketchup, Jif for peanut butter, Kellogg’s, Kraft and so on. These companies didn’t earn that trust and status overnight but spent years building then protecting that exalted perch on the store shelf.
Market research confirms big-name brands such as Betty Crocker for baking products, WonderBread for bread, Hershey’s for chocolate and Coca-Cola for soft drinks rank as the most trusted. Other household names take the title for their categories. Think Campbell’s for soup, Smucker’s for jam, Breyers for ice cream, Tropicana for juice and Folgers for coffee. Shoppers regularly cite a positive experience with a product as a predictor of whether they will continue buying it. Names and labels also are important as they carve an image of consistency into our memory banks.
Surveys show three-fourths of shoppers remain loyal to a single brand for baby and kids items. Nearly that many prefer to buy their preferred brand at a sale price instead of experimenting with a less-expensive generic or store label.
Still, signs are emerging that reveal a few chinks in the armor. Nearly 45 percent of American shoppers recently declared they are less loyal to their regular brands than they were a few years ago. That leaves room for new products to disrupt the hierarchy of market supremacy in certain cases. The other factor may be the most significant: 65 percent of shoppers actively seek out consumer reviews before shopping and are then more inclined to make purchase decisions based on peer reviews rather than brand name. What’s more, 95 percent of the same cohort are using consumer reviews more frequently than just one year ago.
The latter stands to reason. Americans rarely make major purchases — think vehicles, furniture and appliances — without consulting online consumer threads. More and more, we are doing the same with more routine items, from gadgets to toys to clothes. Food, it seems, is the latest.