UK baffled by the origins of their favourite brands


The poll of 1,000 adults revealed that many members of the public struggle to identify British businesses.

Respondents incorrectly thought that many of our store cupboard favourites, such as Tetley Tea, Branston Pickle, HP Sauce and Heinz, were British when they are actually Indian, Japanese and American.

Companies with less traditionally 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 actually all based in Britain.

When asked about businesses in the FTSE 100, the research found 95 per cent of UK adults have heard of the five biggest companies, 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. This compares to HSBC, the actual first place, that represents 5.47 per cent.

Research also showed that one in four don’t know what a PLC is. A PLC is a company whose shares can be sold to the public.

Over half think that Jet2 Holidays and over a quarter think that Tesco are part of wider PLCs, when in fact they are PLCs in their own right.

The beauty industry seemed to be a major cause for confusion, as more people think Lush is part of a wider PLC than The Body Shop, when in fact The Body Shop, once a PLC in its own right, became part of L’oreal in March 2006.

Shameer Sachdev, Head of Marketing & Sales at Spread Co, said: “The research shows that people are very much influenced by the physical presence of companies when it comes to estimating their size and origins.

“Sometimes clever branding from parent companies can disguise our favourite brands as British, so they become part of our culture. Many of these brands started off as local independent companies, and later became part of a wider PLC based overseas such as Cadbury, Walker Crisps and Newcastle Brown Ale. However, their British heritage is still enough to convince the UK population that they’re investing their money with a domestic company.”

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