When times get tough, people trust their candy brands

Articles
June 17, 2009

When times get tough, people trust their candy brands

For the resourceful in this recession, America can still be a land of good times on the cheap. Now, several months after reports of a rise in condom sales (people aren’t going out as much these days) comes a study that signals some other human behaviors people don’t tend to shout about: In the 2009 EquiTrend brand equity study from Harris Interactive, four of the top five slots are chocolate candy brands, and the sixth spot is held by a facial tissue brand. Is this evidence of quiet desperation—of small, coveted yet affordable treats mixed in with private bouts of crying over personal financial conditions, or lost jobs, or other stresses? The research doesn’t actually address this, but SupermarketGuru.com sees the hint of a sad pattern, of fierce personal pressures not being disclosed or shared, but rather being drowned in a series of private sessions marked by reliance on candy and possibly tears. The #1 brand among 1,202 brands rated online this spring among 24,446 U.S. consumers aged 15 and over was M&M’s Plain Chocolate Candy, with an overall equity score of 79.54 on a scale of 100. In second place, Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate Candy posted a score of 79.45. After Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in third place at 78.30 (plenty of house cleaning) came Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Candy at 78.14 and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Bars at 78.06, Harris Interactive reported.

For the resourceful in this recession, America can still be a land of good times on the cheap.  Now, several months after reports of a rise in condom sales (people aren’t going out as much these days) comes a study that signals some other human behaviors people don’t tend to shout about:

In the 2009 EquiTrend brand equity study from Harris Interactive, four of the top five slots are chocolate candy brands, and the sixth spot is held by a facial tissue brand.  Is this evidence of quiet desperation—of small, coveted yet affordable treats mixed in with private bouts of crying over personal financial conditions, or lost jobs, or other stresses?

The research doesn’t actually address this, but SupermarketGuru.com sees the hint of a sad pattern, of fierce personal pressures not being disclosed or shared, but rather being drowned in a series of private sessions marked by reliance on candy and possibly tears.

The #1 brand among 1,202 brands rated online this spring among 24,446 U.S. consumers aged 15 and over was M&M’s Plain Chocolate Candy, with an overall equity score of 79.54 on a scale of 100. In second place, Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate Candy posted a score of 79.45. After Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in third place at 78.30 (plenty of house cleaning) came Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Chocolate Candy at 78.14 and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Bars at 78.06, Harris Interactive reported.

That Kleenex Facial Tissues finished in sixth at 77.47 adds an edge to this story. One of the iconic economy brands, Campbell’s Soups, was seventh at 77.35.  One more candy brand landed in the Top 10—M&M’s Peanut Chocolate Candy in the ninth spot at 76.61.

The overall foods category leader in the survey was the M&M’s brand, but Coca-Cola was tops in beverages; Grey Goose led in beer, wine and liquor; and Subway finished first in fast food.

To avoid a youth skew or other bias toward certain brands, Harris said that “data were weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over on the basis of gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and income.”  A brand’s equity score was determined by a calculation of familiarity, quality, purchase consideration, brand expectations, distinctiveness and trust.

While food brands, and comfort candy brands in particular dominated this year’s leadership spots, the larger takeaway for CPG manufacturers is to consistently keep brands relevant through appropriate strategies and messages—especially in vulnerable periods like today and in the recovery that we anticipate will follow.