Heinz, Kellogg and Kraft are the top brands in the food and beverage sector based on Forrester’s TRUE formula for brand equity. That formula says brand health comes from the extent to which it is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable and essential, or TRUE.
Topping Forrester’s list of key takeaways is the need for food and beverage brands to put in their time to earn customers’ trust. TRUE leaders like Heinz, Kellogg and Kraft have been household names for decades, while younger brands like Vitamin Water have struggled to gain consumer trust. Vitamin Water’s poor trust and essentialness ratings on the TRUE scorecard ranks it as a laggard, meaning it is falling behind on the brand building journey. TRUE leaders stay true to the brand’s most basic value proposition to the consumer, also known as its North Star.
According to the firm’s research, preference, referral and the ability to command a premium price are the key drivers of brand resonance. Consumers exhibit preference by choosing a brand above all others and referral by recommending it to others. Trust, in turn, drives preference, referral and ability to command premium price. Forrester found trust to be a primary driver of brand resonance with a correlation of .84, of brand referral with a correlation of .82 and of preference with a correlation of .80 on a scale of 1.
Forrester also discovered that in terms of branding, you can go home again by refocusing on a brand’s roots and refining the marketing message to complement them. PepsiCo’s Gatorade brand, once suffering from declining market share, has benefitted from a refocused message, resulting in a 46 percent share of the global sports drink market, $3.3 billion in sales and $4.7 billion in brand value. Gatorade utilizes a two-pronged approach, affiliating the brand with athletic performance and backing that affiliation with scientific research from its Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
Gatorade ranks as a follower on Forrester’s scale, meaning it exhibits strong brand direction but doesn’t stand out from other brands. However, it does lead overall brand leader Coke in its target demographic of men in their twenties. Gatorade also receives high rankings on trust drivers such as “having products/services that consistently deliver on their promises.”
Forrester says the first step in becoming a TRUE brand leader is to build trust in your product by supplying repeated, positive interaction with your brand. Next, become essential by satisfying both emotional and functional needs while engaging over shared values. Cheerios’ Heart Healthy campaign is an example of this. Its unique health proposition makes it less likely that consumers will switch between Cheerios and other brands at breakfast time, securing greater mind and market share.
Third, brands should strive to be unmistakable by using marketing levers including packaging, product, messaging or brand experience. Finally, TRUE leaders become remarkable by disrupting the market in a way that leads to conversation about the brand. For example, Doritos undertook a campaign around its brand North Star that “Doritos means good times.” A social media campaign allowed its young male customers to invite a mariachi band to their party, starting an online conversation and reinforcing the brand’s message.
Aligning your brand to its North Star will help it stay on the path to becoming a TRUE leader. To stay on track, think about what products make your brand essential, what communications will be most effective in building trust and how your brand can disrupt the market to become unmistakable. For more information or to purchase a copy of Forrester Research’s report, Food and Beverage Brands Must be Trusted and Essential, click here.