These days, we as consumers like to think we enjoy a wide variety of options when it comes to retail. From household goods, to clothing, to food, there are always number of different brands and companies we can choose to support, and it’s that freedom of choice we thrive off of. What many fail to realize, however, is that it really all comes down to 10 major companies that run the retail game, and thus while we may feel as though there there are a number of brands we can patronize, both big and small, they usually all somehow lead back to the 10 mega corporations that control the output of almost everything we buy.
Reddit recently shared a chart, called “The Illusion of Choice” that all-too-well demonstrates this reality, and the graphic helps illuminate how different corporations create a chain that begins at one of 10 super companies. Many consumers are unaware of just how many brands each company owns or influences, and they thus think they are choosing among many, when in reality, their choice is actually one in the same.
Next up is Pepsi (NYSE:PEP). This $118.9 billion company soda and snack company has four major branches that it feeds to, and illuminates how a parent company can either own shares of, or partner with networks, thus expanding its scope. Pepsi owns many brands including Quaker, which feeds to breakfast items like Life cereal and Chewy granola bars, Lays, which feeds to snack offerings, Gatorade, which branches to sports drinks, and many, many more.
Thus, Pepsi might go head to head with its bigger brother, The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), but don’t let that fool you. This soda and snack beast still enjoys significant control of the food market, and is tied to many brands that you might not even realize.
Speaking of which, we also have to talk about Coke, because it, too, is one of the 10 major companies that run the retail game. Valued at $171.3 billion, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company enjoys a significant market share lead over Pepsi and now is responsible for a little less than 50 percent of the U.S. carbonated drinks market. Its expertise isn’t only in carbonation though; it also has brands that span from water offerings (Aquarius, Dannon, Dasani), soda, tea (Nestea), energy drinks (Full Throttle), and juice (Minute Maid). In addition, Coke also has some brands, like Monster, that it doesn’t own, but it still distributes.
…Still don’t think you ever patronize the Coca-Cola company?
4. Kraft Foods Group
Next we can look at Kraft (NASDAQ:KRFT), one of the other biggest companies on the list. Though it parted way from what is now Mondelez (NASDAQ:MDLZ) in 2012, the grocery manufacturing and processing conglomerate still commands a monopoly over its many brands and branch networks. Its core business is in beverage, cheese, dairy foods, snack foods, and convenience foods, and as one can see from the chart, it feeds to Capri Sun, Mackwell House, Velveeta, Oscar Mayer, and many more.
Right below Kraft on the graphic is Nestle, the Swiss multinational food and beverage company. Valued at $233.5 billion, Nestle is known for its chocolate but makes its way into households via a variety of ways including Dreyers ice cream, Gerber baby food, Jenny Craig diet offerings, Perrier water, Wonka chocolate, and many more. All together, the food giant owns nearly 8,000 different brands worldwide, and takes stake in or is partnered with a swarm of others.
6. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) deserves a spot on this list, too, evidencing that even your pharmaceutical needs are met through this 10-corporation-controlled web. The $221.4-billion pharmaceutical and consumer-packed goods company commands a wide array of brands, and not only helps medicate you, but also washes your face via Clean N Clear, offers your skin relief via Aveeno, freshens your breath via Listerine, and covers your bruises via Band-Aid. And as you can guess, the list goes on.
Next on the docket is Unilever (NYSE:UL), the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant. This company might be largely known for its soap, but it covers a lot more bases than you might realize (read: the same company that manufactures your soap is also responsible for your Ben & Jerry’s). According to Policy Mic, Unilever now serves up to 2 billion people, and produces everything from peanut butter (Skippy) to tea (Lipton) to deodorant (the ever-popular AXE brand), to hair products (Tresemme) and lotion (St. Ives).
Moving right along we come to Mars, the American manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products. The McLean, Virginia-based company is known for its candy bars, but not everything coming out of Mars’ factories are sweet. The manufacturer has over 100 brands, and not only makes food to whet your appetite, but also your dog’s. Feeding to brands like Cesar, Royal Canin, Dove, Snickers, Twix, Uncle Ben’s, Orbit, Doublemint, and Altoids, it’s safe to safe that when you’re looking to satisfy you or your animals with a treat, it’s often coming straight from Mars.
9. Kellogg Company
Kellogg’s (NYSE:K) is next, and many are fond of the company that is responsible for their breakfast every morning. Little do they know though, that the food manufacturing company headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, is not only satiating their hunger in the morning, but also all day long. Priding itself on cereal and convenience foods, the company’s brands include Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K, Cocoa Krispies, Keebler, Pringles, Pop-Tarts, Kashi, Cheez-It, Eggo, Nutri-Grain and many more.
10. General Mills
General Mills (NYSE:GM) is the last top-10 company to make the list, and it reigns on the graphic over cereal offerings, snack options, and dinner products. The American food company is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and commands over a wide variety of cereal brands, baking-goods brands, grain-snack brands, and meal products brands. Thus, whether you’re having Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, Chex Mix as a snack, or Hamburger Helper for dinner, there’s a high likelihood you’re supporting General Mills at least once a day.
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