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.
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.