There’s a familiarity attached to supermarket shopping. Apart from the convenience of purchasing all you need on a daily basis in one place, going to the supermarket is a bit like going home. You know where everything is located, and you recognise all the products and brands. It’s all so homely and cosy. But what companies own most supermarket brands?
Big Brand Power
Creating powerful brands lies at the foundation of the success of big corporations. But what makes us want to purchase branded goods? Clever marketers spend many hours creating new brands, applying smart psychological strategies to connect with target demographics.
When one considers already well-known brands, it is difficult not to feel a sense of confidence and trust. Buying a renowned brand provides us with a sense of security as well as of getting much more than the product we buy. If George Clooney advertises for Nespresso, one of countless Nestle products, I am bound to be buying a slice of his sexy sophistication, or am I not? If Messi scores goals wearing a particular brand of soccer boots, the kid next door feels his own scoring power soaring when wearing the same boots.
If you are in business and manage to create a strong brand, success is just around the corner.
Your Supermarket Shelves
Take a look at the following illustration and, in your mind, allocate supermarket shelf-space to all the products. You’ll soon realise that there’s little room for lesser known brands.
From the above illustration, you can gather the power of big food brands. What’s there to object to, you may ask. After all, these products have been satisfying the needs of consumers for decades, bringing joy and happiness in the process.
Big Brand Ethics – The Oxfam Study
Back in 2013, the charity, Oxfam, conducted a study into the ethics of big brands. The organisation included several factors to score the best-known brands. Included in the criteria were; land and water use, commitment to reduce environmental impact with regard to climate change, protection of farmers’, workers’, and women’s right, as well as transparency in operations and the relevant supply chains. Mars, Coca-Cola, and Nestle were shown to be failing in upholding workers’ rights and well-being, focusing on big corporation profits instead.
Big Brands Scorecard
The charity’s campaign has led to many improvements. Coca-Cola, as well as Nestle, have since improved business practices. How different well-known brands are scoring today can be viewed on Oxfam’s designated website, www.behindthebrands.org.
Oxfam’s aim of the campaign was to raise awareness among consumers as to the practices of the “big ten.” Pointing to the fact that despite the fact that there would be sufficient food to feed every person in the world, many still die of starvation, the organisation sought to apply pressure on the powerful food corporations. The big ten included:
- Associated British Food
- General Mills
Reverting back to the above illustration, it quickly becomes apparent, that the “big ten” control the majority of the brands available at supermarkets today. Oxfam further highlighted the power wielded by these companies when it comes to world agriculture and agriculture in the developing world in particular. In the hope of harnessing consumer pressure, the organisation encourages shoppers to share information about unethical practices on social media in an effort to demand change from the big ten.
The campaign is ongoing, and you can check out the ethical performance of these companies on a continuous basis.
Beyond the Big Ten
Apart from the world food economy, environmental, and workers’ issues raised by Oxfam, the dominance of big brands in supermarkets has other ramifications. Small producers find it difficult to get shelf-space in most supermarkets, even if consumers have shown an interest in purchasing their products. Though some supermarkets make an effort to stock local produce and promote small local companies, many do not.
Again, it will be up to consumers to demand that their local supermarket make local produce available.
Consumer Pressure Works
Behind the Brands, Oxfam’s campaign has highlighted the impact consumer pressure can have. When consumers protest with their shopping habits, corporations listen and commit to change. Nestle, Coca-Cola, and several other global consumer product giants have taken steps toward resolving some of the issues. Continued consumer pressure will ensure promises are kept, and fair practices find the implementation needed.