It’s all about brand management

Image credit:  John Keogh

Image credit: John Keogh

How big brands are getting into the organic act – and managing their brands

“I like to try independent shops, and it was really very nice with great coffee,” she said. “But when I got home, I looked it up and discovered it was (readers, take a big breath here) a chain.”

Shock Horror.

Readers of the UK’s national newspaper The Guardian were rocked by a shock horror editorial about the trauma of a coffee drinker in Crouch End, London (nicknamed “Nappy Valley” because it is the home of some 30 coffee shops feeding a small population of young families with babies – who drink a lot of coffee it seems).

Bridget Chappell, a full-time mum, was appalled to discover that the little independent coffee shop Harris+Hoole, endearingly named after the two coffee-loving characters in the Diary of Samuel Pepys, was 49% owned by the giant UK retailer Tesco. Well, Ms Chappell had already given up going to Starbucks because they hadn’t paid any corporation tax in the UK over the last few years,  but now even the precious independent coffee shop had succumbed to a 49% holding from retail food giant Tesco. What was the world coming to?

Perhaps she should do some research around brands. Here’s some food for her coffee-drinking thoughts.

While she might be drinking freshly squeezed apple juice from Copella now owned by Tropicana owned by Pepsico, or Innocent Smoothies now owned by heaven forbid Coca-Cola, there’s plenty more organic food for moralising thought about boutique ‘independent’ brands.

Organic chocolates – Dagoba is owned by Hersheys while Green & Black’s Chocolate Bars and Ice Cream are owned by Cadbury Schweppes Plc, Odwalla Juices owned by The Coca-Cola Company, Naked Juice owned by Pepsico and of course organic cereals for breakfast with Cascadian Farm Cereals, Granola, Frozen Fruits and Vegetables owned by General Mills, Back to Nature Foods Cereals, Granola, Cookies, Cracker owned by Kraft (Altria/Philip Morris).

Is this venal or is this just clever marketing by big brands who serve different markets? The general principle of proliferation of brand image to protect market share long ago evolved into brand segmentation to cover different audiences.

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