VoxPop: Do consumers still ‘trust’ smaller brands after they've been acquired by larger companies?

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food vision usa

Large companies are buying up smaller brands here and there, yet the size of these brands are often the reason they get a following in the first place. We chat with some of this year’s FoodVision USA attendees to see how they think consumers react to these acquisitions.

To John Haugen, head of General Mills’ 301 INC incubation arm, “going to Expo West now is like going grocery shopping when really hungry,​” he said during a panel discussion at last month’s FoodVision USA event in Chicago​.

“When you invest in a business you’re investing in three things - the stuff, the brand and the people, and not necessarily in that order - and their stories and their passion are at the heart of the business,”​ Haugen said “Big companies have got great product knowledge, great marketing capability, great sales relationships, and great manufacturing and distribution, but when you put that up against the authentic story and mission of the founder, it’s super hard to replicate that.”

The importance of being authentic, and how to do it

Authenticity needs to be woven into the DNA of a company and brand, said Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea and executive chairman of Beyond Meat, because “Millennials are very good at sniffing out BS.”

In case you’re wondering what it means to be authentic as a brand, a report by food and beverage consultancy Watershed summed it up in five points​: Clean ingredients, great taste, true to mission, culturally accurate, and transparent.

So once a small company has been gobbled up by a much larger one, is it possible to remain authentic to consumers? “These smaller independent brands can still be given freedom within a larger brand to continue what made them what they are in those small stages,”​ said Joseph Lake, manager of global science at McCain Foods.

“I think that the marriage between large and small has so many values—it’s not David versus Goliath, it’s David with Goliath.”

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1 comment

Once bought I won't

Posted by carol crawford,

When some of my favorite small brands are bought up by the bigs I look for another brand. I absolutely do not trust the product any more and refuse to support companies who spend millions to fight transparency, protecting toxic foods, environmental & habitat devastation - like palm oil and glyphosate pollution and or its use as a desiccant -labeling GE and states rights. I have always used my purchasing dollars to support food and other companies whose intention is produce products that are for the highest good of themselves, the consumer, and hopefully not or less exploitive of workers & planet. Companies who will not hide things consumers would rather not see - labeling tricks, omissions or lies. I have sadly lost many products I used each week but now it is easier than ever to who owns what and what every one is offering. It is easier than every for people to feel confident & safe about their purchases.

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