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In these tough economic times, consumers are pleased with their comfort foods, according to the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI). The quarterly report that measures customer satisfaction across 10 economic sectors found that satisfaction was particularly high among beer and candy companies.
Beer manufacturers reached their highest level to date, with a score of 84 (out of a 100-point scale) to mark a 1.2 percent change from 2008 rankings. Top companies included Anheuser-Busch InBev (85) and SABMiller (83), which grew 3.7 percent and 1.2 percent, respectivel,y from last year. Molson Coors Brewing (81) dipped by 2.4 percent, while “all others” maintained their rank at 83.
Candy/chocolate companies were also popular among consumers. Overall satisfaction with food companies remained steady at a rank of 83, with Mars (87), Hershey (87) and Nestle (85) in the top 10. Both Hershey and Nestlé increased 2.7 percent from last year’s totals, and Mars gained 1.2 percent. Other top food brands included Heinz (89), Quaker (87), Kellogg’s (85) and Sara Lee (85).
There was a strong showing from soft drink companies as well, which saw their satisfaction levels grow 2.4 percent for an overall score of 85. PepsiCo (2.4 percent) and “all others” (6.3 percent) posted the greatest gains. However, Coca-Cola (down 1.2 percent) and Dr. Pepper Snapple (down 1.1 percent) both dipped.
“The same thing happened in 2001 in the midst of the previous recession, and also in 2004 when concern over the Iraq war and rising fuel prices appeared to be reflected in higher satisfaction with comfort foods,” said Professor Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of “The Satisfied Customer.”
But cigarettes seem to be losing their appeal with customers, as the category dipped 7.7 percent from its 2008 score down to 72. Manufacturers such as Phillip Morris (down 8.9 percent) and Reynolds American (down 7.7 percent) saw significant declines, dropping from scores of 79 to 72 and 78 to 72, respectively. According to Fornell, the declines are due to new government-imposed product taxes. He said that similar taxes in the past caused a 10 percent price increase, and subsequently a 4 percent decrease in consumption.