You’re strolling through Whole Foods, grocery list in hand, trying to make purchase decisions for the week that will lead to awesome meals without draining your bank account. You pick up the blueberries that are on sale, the almonds that are less expensive than the pistachios and the value pack of chicken breasts.
When you turn into the condiment aisle, you instantly grab some Smucker’s strawberry jam and Jif peanut butter. No perusing the shelves for other options first. No checking prices.
It is as if a gravitational pull existed between you and the jars. For such a conscientious shopper, you suddenly feel out of control. You have to buy Smucker’s. You need Jif. Right?
Turns out, you just might. Research conducted by Notre Dame professors Elizabeth Moore and William Wilkie shows that a person’s brand equity may be influenced by their parents’ purchase behavior. This means that if Mom always filled your peanut butter sandwiches with Jif when you were growing up, you likely will do the same when you are on your own, regardless of price.
Don’t like the idea of your grocery store choices being molded by your parents. You’re in luck. Forbes writer Glen Llopis insists that in fact, consumers are no longer brand loyal at all. He says, “Brands must begin to authentically engage with consumers who are not only becoming more diverse, but wiser about their purchasing habits and more mindful of living healthier lifestyles.”
I was curious to know which argument is true, so I put together a list of five food products that most kids eat while growing up. I then asked fifteen college students what brands their parents buy and what brands they buy. Here are the results:
Peanut Butter: Thirteen out of the fifteen students said that they do or would purchase the same brand of peanut butter as their mothers. Even more notable? Eleven of the thirteen say they go for Jif. I guess choosy mothers really do choose Jif.
Jelly: Students were less passionate about their jelly selections than their peanut butter choices. That said, ten of fifteen students responded that they buy the same brand AND flavor jelly that they had as a child.
Packaged Cookies: Students were either Oreo or Chips Ahoy! people (with the exception of one, sophisticated Milano lover), and nine of fifteen said they pick their cookies based on what Mom packed in their school lunches or brought out after dinner.
Salad Dressing: Only eight of fifteen students said they purchase the same salad dressings as their parents. When asked why, four of the seven who do not responded that they prefer to make their own dressings at home for cost and nutritional reasons. Take that, Hidden Valley.
Soda: Two students asked never drink soda, but of the thirteen who do, twelve select soft drinks based on their parents preferences. The Coke vs. Pepsi war is on.
Still not convinced? See for yourself how many of the products in your cupboard bring you back to your childhood.
Interested in knowing which food brands really are the best (despite what mom says)? Check out these articles that rank some cupboard staples: