food and beverages

Food Research Reveals Brands' Popularity, Online, Other Insights

Hershey’s and Ritz are the favorite packaged food and beverage brands among U.S. adults, according to research by Morning Consult Intelligence.

The brands rounding out the top 10, in order, are Pillsbury, Kellogg, Heinz, Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Campbell, Oreo and Frito-Lay.

Among younger adults — those between 18 and 29 — the top 10 are Oreo, Doritos, Hershey, Ritz, Gatorade, Kellogg, Cheetos, Heinz, Pillsbury and Tostitos.

The brands that are standout favorites among young adults in terms of the differential between their net favorability when compared with that among all adults are Red Bull, Monster, Hot Pockets, Gatorade and Smartwater.

The rankings are based on online surveys of a national sample of adults between January and March 2018. The margin of error for a given brand is plus or minus 2%.



Morning Consult also did more in-depth consumer research on Campbell’s Soup Co., Kellogg, Nestle and General Mills, and separately probed consumers’ attitudes and behaviors in the areas of online versus in-store shopping habits, purchasing considerations, and product labeling.

Closer Looks at Campbell, Other Big Makers  

Campbell was found to have strong brand ID (94%), purchasing consideration (77%) and net favorability (77) over the past 12 months.

However — perhaps speaking to the sales challenges that led last week to a change in management and the launch of a portfolio review — purchase consideration numbers were found to be less strong among younger adults than older ones.

For example, 25% of those 18 to 29 indicated that they were “certain” that they would consider purchasing a product from Campbell’s in the future, compared to 34% of those 30 to 44, 39% of those 45 to 64, and 38% of those 65 and older.

Kellogg slightly outperformed General Mills and Nestle in terms of percentage of total adults saying they were certain to consider purchasing a company’s brands in the future: 34% for Kellogg, versus 32% for General Mills and 28% for Nestle. The percentages picking other options (including “very likely,” “about 50/50,” “not very likely” and “would not consider”) were virtually identical across the three companies.

The same was true when consumers were asked how much they trusted the companies to do the right thing. The percentages answering “a lot” were 34% for Kellogg, 32% for General Mills and 29% for Nestle. The percentages picking other options (including “some,” “not much,” “not at all” and “don’t know”) were again virtually identical across the companies.

Online Buying Patterns

Another online survey by Morning Consult, conducted between May 7 and 11 among a national sample of adults (margin of error plus or minus 2%) asked about key food and beverage shopping habits.

More than two thirds (67%) of all adults said that they have never purchased packaged food or beverage products online — including 62% of men and 71% of women. The main reason cited for not shopping online: 65% of all adults and 44% of Gen Z said they “generally prefer to purchase in-person.”

Further, a whopping 65% of those who haven’t bought grocers online say that they have no interest in doing so going forward, versus 21% saying they’re open to it, but just haven’t tried it yet, and 18% saying that they would be open to it once the options improve.

Those with higher incomes are more likely to have purchased food or beverages online: 45% of those earning $100,000 or more, versus 38% of those between $50,000 and $100,000 and 29% among those under $50,000. Urban dwellers are a bit more inclined, as well: 36%, versus 34% of suburbanites and 31% of those who live in rural areas.

Convenience is by far the dominant reason cited for shopping online: 47%, versus 23% citing greater options available online, and 18% citing lower cost.

Among those who do shop online, 62% said they purchase “small amounts of items as needed,” 27% said that they buy all of their groceries for the week, and 11% said they buy in bulk. Also, 56% say they buy online just a few times per year, 23% every month, and just 16% every week.

When Will Consumers Pay More?

In a not-great-news finding for brands, 82% said that they sometimes purchase generic products when they’re cheaper than the brand alternatives — and that percentage held against all income levels except $100,000 and over, where it was still 77%.

Looking at purchasing consideration influences, asked under what circumstances they would be willing to pay $0.05 more on a $5 grocery item, 82% each cited packaging indicating animal welfare in sourcing methods and a commitment to the environment, and 77% each indicated packaging indicating support of American farmers, not made using GMOs, or a recent recommendation from a friend; 68% indicated made locally, 63% indicated made in the U.S., and 55% indicated a brand name they know and like.

How much do brand names matter? The percentages answering “a lot” were 35% for soda, 33% for coffee/tea, 28% for cereal, 27% for juice, 26% for dairy products, and 25% for snack foods and bread products. Other categories all fell between 25% and 18%.

Nearly one quarter (24%) said that products being organic matters “a lot” in the dairy category, 22% in juices, and 20% in health/snack bars. Other categories ranged between 18% and 13%.

‘Fresh’ Resonates Most on Labels

Looking at the wording on labels, fully 81% said that the word “fresh” makes food and beverage products “more appeaing” to them.

Other wording that pulled high “more appealing” percentages include “farm fresh” (72%), sourced from American farmers (68%), nutritious (68%), high source of vitamins (68%), natural flavors (66%), naturally sweetened (58%), high in fiber (58%) and grass-fed (53%). Between 50% and 42% said that free-range, low-calorie, organic, non-GMO, fat-free, sugar-free, and sustainably sourced make products more appealing.

However, 54% of Americans 18 to 29 say a product labeled organic is more appealing, versus 37% of those 65 or older. 

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