Candy Brands Top Consumer Tastes, Awareness: Survey

Hershey’s is the most powerful brand among U.S. consumers ages 13-49, followed by M&M’s, Reeses and Oreo. Is it any wonder, then, that Atkins was the least-liked among 1,079 brands surveyed, according to “BrandPower,” a new study conducted by Genius Insight, New York?

“Dieting does not have positive connotations—it’s about sacrifice,” said Paul Jenkins, partner, Genius Insights. “What’s not to like about candy? At the end of the day, it’s comforting.”

The “BrandPower” survey, now in its sixth year, contacted some 2,900 people online over the course of six months, ending Nov. 15, and asked them to rank brands based on likability and awareness, respectively. It then averaged those numbers, along with demographic factors, to come up with the final rankings. The survey also ranked brands by several demographic categories, including race, sex and three age groups: 13-20, 21-33 and 34-49-year-olds.

No. 5 overall in the “BrandPower” survey was Sony. Though the company has been taking its lumps in terms of global profits, Sony still dominates consumers’ minds, placing top among non-food brands, ranking No. 1 among men 13-49 and No. 3 in likability.

The rest of the top 10 includes, in order, Kellogg, Kleenex, Kraft, Nestle and Google.

One brand that had a polarizing effect on respondents was McDonald’s. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they “like the brand a lot,” while 20 percent said they dislike it. But the Golden Arches had an excellent awareness score, so it’s overall score placed it about mid-pack at No. 446. Still, two competitors did much better: Wendy’s ranked No. 43 and Burger King was No. 195.

“What it comes down to is it’s still fashionable to dislike McDonald’s,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, Chicago, a restaurant research group. “McDonald’s is still growing and consumers are spending more money [to eat there]. I’ll bet some of those who said they dislike it are still customers.”

Another brand that faces challenges, at least based on those surveyed, is Levi’s. The jeans brand ranked No. 4 overall among consumers age 34-49 and No. 39 overall. However, it was No. 70 among 21-33-year olds and dropped to No. 82 among the 13-20 demographic. “They’ve thrown a lot of money and creativity at those groups, but it’s not sticking,” said Jenkins. “It’s a strong brand, but it’s not where it should be.”

Google’s top 10 finish overall in the “BrandPower” rankings (after placing No. 1 in the “Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders” study, Brandweek, Oct. 31) speaks volumes about its marketability. “Google has become an integral part of our daily lives, by giving us access to great amounts of information in an efficient, simple to use manner,” said Jenkins.

Bacardi was tops overall among liquor and beer brands with adults 21-33, and was the only alcohol with significant crossover appeal among all demos. No surprise here as it regularly ranks as the top-selling spirit in the U.S. (8.4 million cases sold in 2004, per Impact, New York).

Two personalities having trouble extending into the brand world are Donald Trump and Martha Stewart. The Donald, from a brand standpoint, scored poorly overall among all demographic groups, including last in likability among 21-33-year olds. That dropped his overall ranking to No. 487. Stewart performed poorer, coming in overall at No. 704, with a ranking of No. 1,077 in likability—just a notch above the controversial paper that loves to write about her, the National Enquirer, at No. 1,078.

This may not bode well for such companies as KB Homes, which recently signed a deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to create 650 housing complexes based on Stewart’s own homes. And the brand least likely to be used to celebrate owning one of these new homes? Veuve Clicquot champagne, which ranked dead last overall, dragged down by poor brand awareness.