Magazine article Marketing

Britain's Biggest Brands

Magazine article Marketing

Britain's Biggest Brands

Article excerpt

BRITAIN'S BIGGEST BRANDS

Oceans of cola, mountains of breakfast cereal, 12 million miles of cigarettes. All part of the larder we manage to empty each year. Individuals buy brands. But which brands and why? Marketing and research specialist Nielsen try to make sense of it all in the second year of a unique survey of the UK consumer's preferences. We see what people are buying, and how their preferences change. Kittens turn their noses up at anything coarser than shrimp and babies insist upon a no-animal fats guarantee before they set bottom to high chair. This isn't part of the specification for a consumerist Brave New World, just two examples of the changing nature of the brands we buy. There's a complex, often symbiotic relationship between consumer and brands. Sometimes brands demand that we relinquish past habits and adopt new tastes. Sometimes consumers clamour for changes to brands or sectors which have slipped out of favour. More often tweaks and tinkering make for gradual changes in sales and buying habits.

Marketing's Britain's Biggest Brands gives a guide to leading brands' performance as charted by the grocery industry authority, Nielsen. The data is drawn from comprehensive databases including retail market tracking, via the Nielsen Retail Index, and consumer purchasing analysis, derived from Homescan, Europe's first household panel to utilise in-home scanning.

Kellogg's Cornflakes, for example, is a monument to the value of long-term brand building, accounting for well over 80m [pounds] of breakfast cereal sales.

This year Weetabix repositioned its flag-ship brand (our second favourite cereal), killing off the Neet Weet characters and opting for a more adult family-oriented story line -- have you had your Weetabix? Like Kellogg, Weetabix knows the value of guarding the product itself, and letting the ads take the brunt of a brand change.

But this isn't always possible. Schweppes mixers make it into the top ten of the carbonated drinks league on the back of its realisation that advertising has its limits. Schweppes guessed that if its tonic was going to be taken seriously as an adult drink it had to get out of bottles and into cans.

As ever the drinks league shows the value of the big brand, with Coca-Cola towering over the rest; we slug back 714 million litres of cola each year -- nearly two million per day.

Lucozade spent half as much on advertising as Coke -- for a quarter of Coke's sales -- which just goes to show the benefits of a big umbrella brand. Lucozade's early success and later difficulties came from niche marketing which was just a little too effective.

Unfortunately for butter, old prejudices don't always die hard. Butter saw its price plummeting over the summer as it absorbed the latest knocks from non-butter spreads. Despite the valiant efforts of Anchor Butter's footballing cows, Flora has stretched its lead over Anchor with sales of more than 110m [pounds]. Yet Flora's parent Unilever admits that brand development is a slow business. The implication is that butter will get more badly burnt in years to come. Meanwhile there is a growing move towards "healthier" products, which appear in an ever more bewildering array of brand extensions -- the Flora range now includes 13 products from five different sectors. All the yellow fats in the top ten have a health line extension.

New developments in old markets don't have to leave established brands in the cold. The old guard still dominates the snack market. Snacking used to be something that got you a rap on the knuckles. Now it gives you kudos -- you're just too important to sit down long enough for a proper meal, it says. We munched our way through 784m [pounds] worth of extruded potato cereals and nuts last year, a growth of 15% on 1989. Walker's Crisps towers over the rest, with sales value three times greater than Hula Hoops, the number two. It has a mighty adspend to match -- 5. …

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