- Hershey's, Oreo and M&M's have been ranked in YBrands' top 10 list of the most trustworthy brands among consumers 13 to 36 years of age, according to MediaPost. Hershey's was ranked third, Oreo fifth and M&M's sixth.
- Ybrands surveys 80,000 young consumers annually about their perceptions of 230+ brands across five verticals: fashion/apparel, CPG food/beverage, health and beauty, QSR/casual dining and media/tech/entertainment.
- “Young people may trust brands like Hershey's, Oreo, and M&M's because they've consistently made products they love for a long time — and there's no reason not to trust them,” Bobby Calise, Ypulse’s vice president of Ybrands, its youth brand tracking product, said in the MediaPost article.
It's rare that products stand the test of time amid changing consumer tastes, flavor demands and new products. It can be especially difficult for legacy companies to keep up with millennials and Generation Z, thanks to constantly evolving taste. It's even more challenging to be lauded by this generation for brand longevity given the interest by these demographics in new product innovations. To do that, food manufacturers often introduce variations of the original product.
Mars, the manufacturer of M&Ms, has nearly a dozen varieties of the candy listed on its website, such as Almond, Dark Mint, Pretzel and Mega Chocolate. And after introducing its first new variation — the lemon flavored Oreo in the 1920s — the cookie expanded into new flavors, and now introduces eight to 10 seasonal and permanent ones each year. The iconic cookie also has taken on new formats, including Oreo Thins, minis and candy bars.
Millennial interest in exciting re-imaginations of products can be a boon for iconic brands that can successfully play up their nostalgia and creativity at the same time. Having strong brand recognition puts them in a unique position to continue reinventing, but still remain classic and authentic. The trick is that marketers within the company need to keep a pulse on cultural trends to keep brands current.
Nostalgia is a growing trend in the food and beverage industry even as consumers show increasing concern about sugar and artificial ingredients. Soda companies have tapped into the trend with launches like PepsiCo's Crystal Pepsi and Coca-Cola's Surge, while B&G Foods’ Green Giant brand brought back its Jolly Green Giant in an ad campaign earlier this year.
“Ingredients, packaging and marketing can all bring new excitement — but it is equally as important to consistently offer the product that consumers have come to love,” Berta De Pablos-Barbier, who leads marketing for Mars Chocolate North America, told Food Dive in an email.
One key ingredient for that consistency is engagement through social media channels. In an effort to humanize and give credibility to their brands, Oreo, Hershey's and M&M's have all built customer trust and loyalty through direct online outreach. By listening to their fans, they have been able to adapt in stride with industry changes while fostering a deeper connection and trust in the products — which ultimately leads to additional sales. Even more importantly, engaging with new generations through social media has given these popular brands a new crowdfunding source for R&D that makes those who participate feel like they have a say in what they pick up off the shelf.
The race to stay relevant pervades all CPG food brands, but perhaps manufacturers should take a page from Hershey's, Oreo and M&Ms, which have consistently delivered trendy versions of old favorites to keep loyal customers enticed. Whether it’s because of their continued willingness to reinvent or their strategies to speak with their customers directly, it is laudable that these brands have managed to straddle the desires of both their old customers and those who are just coming into their own purchasing power.