What can the most-chosen brands of last year tell us about changing consumer habits as the world emerged from the global pandemic? The latest edition of the Kantar Brand Footprint report reveals all. This article first appeared in ESM's September/October 2022 edition.
The latest edition of Kantar’s Brand Footprint report, which covers the most-chosen brands of 2021, is framed, to some degree, by the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the return to sporadic lockdown measures amidst the rise of new variants.
As the year progressed, however, vaccination drives led most countries to reopen, providing a reprieve to an embattled HoReCa channel, although some consumer habits that developed during the pandemic proved hard to shift.
Kantar’s annual Brand Footprint report illustrates the most-chosen brands by shoppers and how the consumer goods firms behind said brands are seeking to increase their footprint.
In essence, it measures the ‘moment of truth’ – the point at which the shopper decides to buy one brand over another. The Brand Footprint rankings illustrate which brands are ‘winning’ at that moment of truth, through the Consumer Reach Points (CRP) measurement.
For the full list of Top 75 most-chosen brands in Europe, check out the latest edition of ESM: European Supermarket Magazine. Alternatively, to discover the most-chosen brands in several key European markets, select a country below.
On a global level, there are signs of a big-brand revival, according to Kantar, with the top 50 seeing their CRPs grow by 9.4%, on average, and being chosen 72 billion times over the course of 2021 (compared to 66 billion a decade ago). That said, the average household buys a portfolio of 55 FMCG brands in a typical year, indicating that there are plenty of opportunities for emerging players to make their mark.
As Benjamin Cawthray, global thought leadership director at Kantar, explains, the latest data set reflects a turbulent period for retail and FMCG, following on from a year (2020) in which grocery purchasing surged.
“The impact of COVID on the take-home FMCG markets was a positive one, but in 2021, the industry slowed considerably in Europe, moving into slight decline in Western Europe, and this was seen across all FMCG sectors,” Cawthray explains.
“The food sector saw the strongest performance in 2020, as out-of-home occasions moved in-home, and in Europe, 19 of the top 20 food brands subsequently grew. The food sector slowed considerably in 2021, and this, in turn, meant only ten of the top 20 saw growth. We see similar slowdowns and reduction in brands growing across all of the major FMCG sectors.”
It’s The Real Thing
Coca-Cola consolidated its position as Europe’s most-chosen brand in the period, boasting a CRP of 1,749 (up by 2%), with its penetration also increasing slightly, to 61.4 (from 60.9 the previous year).
Confectionery giant Kinder places second, and the Ferrero-owned brand posted the highest CRP growth of any brand in the top ten (up by 6%), as well as seeing an increase in both penetration (to 50.9) and consumer choice (to 8.3). Snack brand Lay’s – part of the wider PepsiCo family – places third, registering a 2% increase in CRP and a small increase in penetration (to 39.9).
Elsewhere in the top ten, a couple of brands have changed places. Pepsi rises a place, to fifth, registering a CRP increase of three and seeing its penetration (to 32.1) and consumer choice (to 9.5) also increase. It trades places with Knorr, which saw its CRP drop by 3%, as well as seeing a notable drop in penetration (from 50.3 to 49.1).
Within the top 20, Italian snack brand Mulino Bianco is a notable mover, rising a place, to 18th, and registering a 6% increase in CRP, as well as gains in penetration (to 9.5) and consumer choice (to 16.1).
Brand Footprint Europe – The Top 25
Movers And Shakers
In the rest of the top 75, there are some more pronounced risers and fallers. Amid increased demand for dairy alternatives, Alpro has risen four places, to 22nd, recording a CRP increase of 10%, while Lipton (26th), Philadelphia (32nd) and Kit Kat (34th) have all risen by four places.
Further down the list, Schweppes goes up by three places, to 38th (with a CRP gain of 12%), Actimel rises by seven places, to 41st (CRP up by 15%), Oreo goes up by seven places, to 56th (CRP up by 9%), Cadbury’s rises by 14 places, to 62nd (CRP up by 16%), and butter brand Kerrygold is a notable mover, to 67th – a gain of 17 places (CRP up by 12%).
By far, the biggest positional gain in the top 75 goes to Red Bull. The energy drink brand rose by 27 places, to sit in 69th position, recording a CRP increase of 23% and seeing its penetration (to 8.0) and consumer choice (to 7.9) also make a notable increase.
For the full list of Top 75 most-chosen brands in Europe, check out the latest edition of ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.
With 2021 now behind us, our attention turns to the present, and a socio-economic situation in which inflation, the cost of living, supply chain challenges and the conflict in Ukraine are all likely to have a bearing on consumer shopping habits in the months to come.
How does Cawthray believe this will play out when it comes to next year’s Brand Footprint rankings?
“When faced with increasing financial pressures, shoppers can find a way to cope by using different levers to manage their spend,” he says. “Shoppers can: a) reduce how much they buy; b) change where they shop; or c) change what they buy and how they shop – in other words, more promotions, more private label, or cheaper branded options.
“Historically, we have seen that savings are made where they cause least disruption to our lives, i.e. we are more likely to change what we buy before we change where we buy, and we are more likely to change where we buy than buy less.
"Already in 2022 – with grocery inflation at its highest level for 14 years, and rising – we have seen the same pattern, with shoppers moving to cheaper products, rather than cheaper stores, although this is happening, too.
“With this in mind, brands that have a range of options that cater to all price tiers are likely to fare better than brands that just play at the premium end of the market.”
About The Methodology
The Brand Footprint rankings reveal the brands that are winning at that ‘moment of truth’, indicating the number of times that they are chosen by shoppers. Independent of revenue, it exposes the decisions that consumers are making at the point of sale. The consumer reach points (CRPs) of each brand are calculated by multiplying three metrics: the household population, penetration, and consumer choice. CRPs are Kantar’s measure of ranking the most successful brands by the number of times that they are chosen by consumers throughout the year.
Note that all CRP figures shown measure millions of consumer reach points – i.e. a CRP of 150 would indicate 150 million consumer reach points.
For the complete list of most-chosen brands across Europe, log on to www.kantar.com/campaigns/brand-footprint.