Why Brits struggle to identify homegrown brands

What's in a name? Apparently, a lot. New research reveals that the British public are misled by "British-sounding" brands, from Tetley Tea to Branston Pickle.

What makes a brand truly British? Is it that its products are manufactured in the UK? Should the company be headquartered in the Isles? Or is it enough that the products are national favourites? According to a new consumer survey, most Brits still struggle to identify homegrown brands.

The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted by Spread Co, revealed that most Brits assume that many of our store cupboard favourites, such as Tetley Tea, Heinz, HP Sauce and Branston Pickle, were British when they are actually Indian, American and Japanese respectively.

Companies with less British sounding names such as Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Schroders and Antofagasta were also incorrectly identified – less than 10 per cent of the public thought they were British, when they are all UK based.

“The research shows that people are quite clued up on the UK stock market but are very much influenced by the physical presence of companies when it comes to estimating their size, when in fact most of our biggest businesses would never be found on the High Street,” according to Spread Co’s Shameer Sachdev.

“Similarly, a British-sounding name is enough to convince people they’re investing their money with a domestic company, when in many cases household brands like Tetley Tea and Branston Pickle are produced by companies based overseas. It’s easy to think the FTSE 100 and other financial indices as confusing and far removed from our everyday lives but many of these huge companies produce the brands we see on the supermarket shelves,” he added.

Overestimating British brands

95 per cent of UK adults have heard of the five biggest companies in the FTSE 100, but thought high street names were bigger players in the market than they actually are. Almost one in five thought Tesco was the biggest company in Britain even though it only represents 0.84 per cent of the market share compared to HSBC, which represents 5.47 per cent.

According to Spread Co’s David Morrison, the general assumption by the respondents has been that British high street brands are automatically the best performers in the FTSE 100. “I think it’s quite impressive that the UK public were able to identify four out of the FTSE’s top ten. They were certainly bang on with the oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell.  But it looks like they overestimated the size and influence of the banking sector. No doubt this is due to the strong high street presence of Barclays and Lloyds despite branch closures as we increasingly do our banking online and via smartphones. No doubt it’s also a surprise to many people that a tobacco company can be so significant.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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