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Brand intimacy: How do food and beverage companies measure up?

5 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Consuming is an intimate experience, especially when it comes to the food and beverage space. While in other industries consumers simply come in contact with products, in the food and beverage industry they literally consume them. So it is important for food and beverage companies to establish brand intimacy with today’s consumers at every possible chance.

MBLM took a look at how companies rank when it comes to establishing intimacy with consumers, and the list of the top 20 included companies from the apparel and technology industries to retail and consumer packaged goods. The firm calculated the rankings based on scores for sharing, or engagement and interactions between brands and consumers, bonding, or when consumers become attached and committed to brands, and fusing, or co-identification between consumers and brands.

So how did food and beverage companies measure up? Restaurant, CPG and retail brands made the list, and they made up seven of the 20 companies included in the rankings. SmartBrief took a look at the rankings, why the food and beverage brands that made it were chosen and how the news has reflected the data so far this year.


Starbucks had the strongest showing on the U.S. brand rankings among food and beverage companies, coming in fourth. According to MBLM’s data, Starbucks’ status as an intimate brand is partly due to its main product’s position as part of consumers’ daily lives. But the company’s efforts to engage its customers and its constant testing and innovation keep Starbucks relevant and present in the restaurant space. Here’s a sample from the SmartBrief archives of some of those efforts and innovations that Starbucks has served up this year:

Coming in at No. 20 on the rankings, McDonald’s has a large bank of brand fans that engage mostly with the chain through sharing. Consumers feel intimate with McDonald’s due to the company’s well-established place in the cultural lexicon and the nostalgic feelings it brings about for consumers, the data revealed:

CPG companies

PepsiCo came in at the top of CPG brands on the rankings in 10th. Pepsi’s ability to be intimate with consumers is not only a result of the company’s status as one of the best-known brands in the industry, but also because it actively engages consumers in a variety of ways across different channels, according to the data:

Coca-Cola, which was ranked No. 11, draws consumers mostly through sharing, the research found. Consumers feel intimate with Coke and its brand because they know what they are getting when they consume its products, and they feel informed about Coke’s brand messaging overall:

Kraft Foods, ranked 13th in brand intimacy according to the data, is another company that relies on sharing to remain close to consumers. Kraft is a well-known brand and a household name, which has allowed the company to bond with consumers over its products’ flavors, qualities and uses, the data found:

Nabisco might not have come in at the very top of the rankings, but according to the data the company, ranked 14th, has some of the most devoted fans. From its popular Oreos to BelVita and other items, Nabisco has established a level of trust with its consumers, and they are committed to the brand, according to the research:

Food retailers

Whole Foods was the only food retailer to make the rankings, coming in at No. 19, although other retailers including Amazon were also named to the list. Whole Foods’ spot was secured due to its niche market appeal and its ability to attract savvy shoppers looking for healthy alternatives and natural and organic foods, the research found:


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