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Delivering consumer clarity

March 2010

What Makes Big Brands Stay Big?
By: Craig Twyford, VP Product Leadership, The Nielsen Company SUMMARY: Why is it that the most popular breakfast cereal brands of 1949 are still
amongst the best selling brands today, when in contrast, all the top shampoo brands of that era have long ago disappeared? What are the factors that ensure some brands survive as a dominant force while others, that appear unassailable in one decade, quickly become the topic of nostalgia in the next? A close look at the Nielsen archives brings new insight to the old question – what makes big brands stay big?
In the consumer packaged goods world we tend to think of the short term trend as being this week’s data and a long term trend might look at two or three years, or if you are really resourceful, maybe as much as five or even ten years of history – all the way back to the year 2000! In this study Nielsen has delved deeper into the archives than ever before, going back two generations to 1949 (with a brief pit stop in 1979) to take a new perspective on brand longevity. 1949 is the right place to start, partly because it is the oldest information that can be found in the Nielsen archives and partly because it marks the start of the race. The war was over, rationing was easing up and consumer brands were poised on the edge of the great marketing boom of the 1950s with the advent of supermarkets and TV advertising and all that they brought. The question of brand survival can be nicely framed by contrasting the evolution of the Breakfast Cereal category with the evolution of the Shampoo category over that 60 year period (1949-2009). The big three cereal brands at the close of the 1940s, Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix were still amongst the top 3 brands a generation later (in 1979). A generation after that (in 2009), despite all the changes we have seen in consumer behaviour, all three brands were still amongst the top ten most popular cereal brands in the country. In the 30 years between 1949 and 1979 Weetabix’s market share moved from 17.7% to 17.8%!

Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. All rights reserved.

4 In Shampoo the big brands in 1949 included Evan Williams.8 4. Together they accounted for over a third of all sales and yet all three had completely disappeared by 1979 as had all the other brands in the category. the contemporaries of Sunsilk and Silvikrin.7 40. 3 no. And most of the brands that replaced them had all but disappeared a generation after that.. Why should that be? Why should one category remain almost totally unchanged while another should transform beyond recognition? Drene 11.The big post-war breakfast cereal brands are still household names today £ Brand Share 1949 17. All rights reserved. 1 no..5 no.7 13.2% Icilma 6.3% (1979) Silvikrin 10. . had themselves been displaced by 2009. 1 no.5 22.. most of the brands that replaced them.1 5. 2 no.8% (1979) All the big shampoo brands of the 1940’s had disappeared a generation later. 7 no.. 3 no..3 no.4% Sunsilk 8. Furthermore. 2 no.3 1979 17. Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. Icilma and Drene.0% Evan William 18. 1 2009 Kelloggs Cornflakes Shredded Wheat Weetabix 9..8 7.

For the consumer to truly engage with the brand as a child the brand needs to be very visible. . shaving brands. The age at which a consumer engages with a brand is critical to longevity. however small. Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. the brown sauce or the tomato sauce bottles are visible on the table and the child consumer makes a conscious decision whether to engage or not. if you are interested. Nielsen looked at 11 categories and examined the fortunes of the top three brands in 1949 from each category – 33 apparently unassailable national market leaders. Shampoo. Other brands do develop an emotional engagement but at a later age – when the consumer is a young adult. Nobody knows the brand of macaroni that was used to make their supper but with breakfast cereal there is often a choice of two or three.In total. By 2009 less than a quarter of those brands were still in the top three in their category and only two brands had maintained a consistent no. Chocolate and sweets are the obvious examples but also consider the choice of a football team an illustration of loyalty. convenience or performance. The child consumer is usually allowed to either love or hate Marmite. Typically the child will choose a football team around the age of 7 and will stay with that team for the rest of their life regardless of price. This article argues that there are five factors that influence the long term success of a brand: •The age at which the emotional engagement occurs •The impact of “creative destruction” •Strong brand management •Justifying a premium positioning •Domination of the emerging channels Emotional Engagement The age at which the consumer engages with the brand is critical to the brand’s longevity. another survivor. both in the house and on TV. It is no longer a continuation of parental choice. but chosen by the child. it is almost the opposite effect – a desire to be different. All rights reserved. beer and cigarettes are all later choices and by this time the influences are different. laid out on the table by the parent. are Ryvita Crispbread and HP sauce). At this age the parents are a very strong influence but ultimately it is the personal choice of the child which team they support. and it needs to involve an element of personal choice for the child.1 position across the timeframe (the two great survivors.

It can be no coincidence that Matey.Post War to the naughties 1950s Shampoo. Now a generation on. Or will they? As one generation moves to another and we start to see a generation that might prefer to drink a Peroni and use a Nivea for Men product before they hit the town. The ‘man about town’ generation gap . their children in turn would splash on some Old Spice. is a perennial bath product while its contemporaries have mostly fallen away. shaving brands. The younger the age of emotional engagement the greater the parental influence and so the greater likelihood that the brand will be passed through the generations. they will shave with a Gillette product and drink a bottle of Stella. All rights reserved. . There is a desire to be different. the childrens’ bubble bath. if they smoke at all it could be Lambert & Butler. drink a can of Skol lager while smoking a JPS cigarette. 1970s 2000s Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. beer and cigarettes are all later choices and by this time it is no longer a continuation of parental choice.In the 1950s the young men about town might have shaved with a Colgate product before enjoying a Watney’s Brown Ale and smoking a Woodbine.

1%) and Persil (29.0% 29. and we see that same phenomenon in the CPG industry time and time again. Who could have predicted that two of those brands would disappear without a trace and the third would continue to dominate the category for rest of the century? That change is explained by “creative destruction”. It was not until the launch of the Aquafresh stripes (fresh breath.9% 12. it is quite hard to find examples of brands that do survive the impact of creative destruction . strong teeth) that the market began to re-converge.3% 31. Socialism and Democracy. but will it be Persil. alternative solutions are already coming to market. In fruit juice Tropicana displaced Del Monte with a fresh chilled juice. Brands like Pepsodent that promised a “brighter taste means clean whiter teeth” began to decline. . In fact. The market makes a tectonic move based on a leap in technology or a genuine innovation and the dominant brands simply can not react.2% 31.1% 14.7% 19.3%). In Laundry Detergents the market moved to automatic machines and it also moved away from soap flakes to synthetic materials – synthetic detergents were both cheaper and more effective and Tide. Crest was launched in the US in 1956 and when it eventually got ADA approval in 1960 it rose to 30% market share over night. The economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase “creative destructive” (Capitalism. Persil. The toothpaste market split between cosmetic claims (whitening) and therapeutic claims (fight decay with fluoride). All rights reserved. Ariel and Bold that profit from the transformation or a set of new players? History would suggest the latter. swept the soap flake brands aside with a superior consumer proposition. eventually. In the last 60 years we have seen the same thing happen countless times.9% 17.Creative Destruction But emotional engagement is not the only factor – that would be too easy. Ariel and. and your liquid soap will be Carex not Lux. Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company.7% 13. healthy gums. It is hard to imagine that we will continue to wash our clothes in water and detergents 30 years from now. Creative destruction has happened to one degree or another in almost every category and will continue to happen. Oxydol (31. 1942) to describe the radical transformation that accompanies innovation. It is one thing seeing the change but quite another to be able to move the business quickly and radically enough to benefit. your shower gel will more likely be Radox or Lynx rather than Lifebuoy. Emotional engagement does not explain why in 1949 three laundry brands shared the detergent market between them – Rinso (31. It was P&G that led the move to synthetic detergents (with Tide in US) and they did the same with toothpaste. an ingredient that was proven to fight decay.a round of applause for Anchor for having led the charge into spreadable butter from an existing position of dominance.2% 1949 Something happened? 1979 2009 When radical transformation accompanies innovation brands can set themselves apart from their competitors and secure long term brand success. Laundry detergents market share over time 7.9%). P&G commercialized the use of fluoride in toothpaste.

All rights reserved.Strong Brand Management The impact of emotional engagement and creative destruction might suggest that the role of the brand marketer is simply that of an interested observer. While more in depth work is needed on this topic there are examples of a relationship between price premium and longevity – where price premium is defined by a brand having a higher value than volume market share. convenience. The macro trends of value for money. in the same categories Libby’s Baby Food and MacVita Crispbread are both examples of brands that had a lower value share than volume share in 1949 and have now disappeared. watching the events unfold – but that is not true. A brand must stay relevant and adapt to the macro consumer trends or it will diminish and die through neglect. The bar is raised with each generation and it is critical that a brand stays relevant on at least one of these dimensions. There are many celebrated brand revival marketing case studies. 1949 .£value share v volume share 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Heinz Baby Ryvita Jeyes Libby Baby MacVita Ibcol Winners Losers Value Share Volume Share Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. In 2009 it is new brands like Organix and Ella’s Kitchen that have the premium positioning . It was also clear that brands find it increasingly difficult to maintain a premium position over the long-term. . Heinz Baby Food and Ryvita are both good examples of premium surviving brands whereas. Premium Price The study also looked at the price position of the 33 brands to see if this presented a key differentiation between success and failure. Lucozade developed their energy message with the times A brand must stay relevant and adapt or it will diminish.will this help them survive in the long term?. choice and health have dominated consumer behaviour since the war. There are examples of price premiums and brand longevity that stretch back three generations. Lucozade’s transition from a medicinal tonic to an energy drink and the shift from Dairylea triangles to Dairylea Lunchables are just two examples of where a brand may not have survived in the long-term without the marketer’s understanding of the relevant macro consumer trends and some skilled brand management.

In 1949 the market was split between Multiples and the Independent trade and it was split between Grocers and Chemists. Icilma and Amami because history only remembers the winners. Spare a thought for Rinso and Oxydol. of course. . for Ibcol and Owbridges. There is not enough data available on trade channels in 1949 to make an empirical conclusion but the information available is indicative and of strategic importance. knowing now which retailers will lead the consolidation and later dominate the modern trade should influence how and where they go to market. and if you focus your resources on the emerging retailers then you might be a long term success. All rights reserved. When businesses look to the developing opportunities in India and China. Heinz Baby Food had a far higher share in Multiples than Chemists or Independents but for Brands Baby Food. the now forgotten competitor. on the whole. Big Brands stay big because: People buy what they know They stand for something real They are consistent over time 1876 1881 1886 1904 1908 1918 1920-33 1934 1939 1962 1969 1996 Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company. even with toothbrushes the ever present Wisdom brushes had a stronger position in Multiples and the now absent Spa brushes did better business in the declining channels. Drene. then it will be the brands that market themselves well through the on-line retailers that will be dominant in the future. If your brand has an emotional engagement with children. the opposite was true. Brands that have a strong presence in emerging channels have a greater chance of longevity Share in grocery multiples indexed on share in chemists or independents in 1949 Spa Toothbrush Kolynos Toothpaste Brands Baby Wisdom Toothbrush Colgate Toothpaste Heinz Baby 0 50 100 150 200 250 So what does make a big brand stay big? The reality is that big brands. Erasmus Shaving Stick. it would have been fascinating to prove that the brands that dominated the emerging channels in 1949 were the brands that went on to win in the long-term. If true. Spending time working out which channels and which retailers will emerge as the leading force and focusing resources there is likely to pay dividends in the long term. That is if you can also persuade your business to move all its investment behind the new innovative technology at just the right moment. if you continually support the brand to maintain a premium. do not stay big. for Evan Williams. if you manage the brand to meet the macro consumer trends.Emerging Channels Finally. The significance of this conclusion. Colgate was always strong in Multiples and Kolynos toothpaste was stronger in Chemists. is huge. for MacVita Crispbread and Brands Baby Food.

The Grocer. Nielsen has seen consumers become much more cautious and many have undertaken strategies to save money on the weekly shop but Britain’s 100 Biggest Grocery Brands report highlights that quality. sits in 4th place. an increase of 4. ranks at number 5 and Britvic’s Robinsons drink which has a history that can be traced back to 1823 retained its 10th place position with sales of £307 million.5% YoY. a brand is defined as any products sold under a brand name within a given category. With sales of £1. compiled by The Nielsen Company and published in trade magazine. Danone Activia was launched only 11 years ago and now sits in 18th position with sales of over £220million and growth in excess of 25% YoY.9%) of the total £130 billion grocery market. The report covers grocery brands only and does not include Alcohol. Topping the table again this year is Coca Cola which has now become the first ever grocery brand* to pass the £1 billion mark. otc medicines and personal care goods. The iconic brand was launched 110 years ago and continues to perform.100 Biggest Grocery Brands The annual Britain’s 100 Biggest Brands report which ranks the 100 best selling grocery brands in Great Britain. Cravendale. **Source: twinings. Twinings entered the Top 100 for the first time this year. a bread who’s branding hangs heavily on its heritage enjoyed a very successful year with sales growing over 13%. What is apparent though is that shoppers have continued to buy trusted brands. sees another successful year for the nation’s most popular grocery brands. the country’s largest branded milk came onto the market just over a decade ago.9% in 2009 to retain the top spot. 304 years later the brand grew sales 11% and was one of the five new entries to the top 100. another brand which has survived over a century. Twinings was one of the first companies to introduce tea drinking to the British when Thomas Twining began selling tea from his first premises on the Strand in London**. Coke grew sales by 4. falling within the top 40 at number 39. Cravendale remains one of the most successful and the milk brand grew sales 16% in 2009. In 1706. The sales value of the top 100 brands accounted for £16. cigarettes.2010 .7 billion ( All data source: Nielsen Scantrack. In this report. Taking what was a commodity product and forming a brand has proved a successful strategy which others have followed. The oldest surviving brand in the top 100 league is Twinings. The report also sees some comparatively adolescent brands continue to climb the rankings. Copyright © 2010 The Nielsen Company.011 billion. All rights reserved. over 300 years after the company first produced tea. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. The growth was ahead of total market growths which were 3. The year was a tough year for the consumer and value for money became more important than ever before. Hovis. Other classic brands that have stood the test of time and feature in the top 10 of the league include bread brands Warburtons and Hovis. Warburtons is 134 years old and the Bolton based brand remains strong at number 2 with £706 million sales in 2009.8% for the year. trusted brands can survive and indeed flourish in tough times and through the times. The report sees some really exceptional performances from brands who’s stories began up to three centuries ago but who continued to prevail in the last . MAT to 20/12/09 * Coke is the first brand ever to pass the £1billion mark in the Nielsen/The Grocer 100 Biggest Grocery Brands report (formerly the Nielsen/Checkout Top 100 Grocery Brands).

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