Final - Is it Worth it Brands and Taste?

This topic submitted by Kelly Bush, Hannah Frederick, Josh Marcus, Nicole Santelli, Alison Stanton ( at 11:30 am on 12/7/01. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins

Is It Worth It? Brands and Taste

Kelly Bush, Hannah Frederick, Josh Marcus, Nicole Santelli, Alison Stanton


Does a national brand name cause people to believe that it is a better tasting product? If one can apply the results of this experiment to bigger scale household items, like desktop computers, that is where significant amounts of money can be saved. We found that although brand name are consistantly predicted to have better taste, actual taste tests show that generic brands are comparable in taste to brand names.


Pepsi versus Coke

Our purpose is to discover if name brands cause people to have a predetermined opinion that the name brand colas will taste better than generic brands. Our group thinks that people will believe that the name brand product will taste better, but when they are tested without knowing what they are trying they will not be able to decipher between different colas. We plan to discover if people are paying more money for the name brand, when they could be buying the generic brand colas that provide the same taste. We are also interested in discovering how advertising and brand names cause people to favor one drink over another when there is really no difference.

The project idea stemmed from one of our group members wanted to know whether it was worth the money to buy the more expensive, national brands of water. From there this research project developed into also testing brand name labels on other products. Finally we decided to focus on cola taste and brands to the exclusion of water brands. Through our research we hope to gain a broader knowledge of the effects of advertising on the consuming populace. In a world where media is dominant and forms our views it is important to understand how advertising effects our thinking about products in order to make better purchasing decisions. We also want to discover if sex and taste is a reasonable avenue for further study by our introductory question of whether there is a difference in taste preferences between the sexes.


The reason behind our research is simple. We want to know if the advertisers have the advantage because of the name/label of the product pushes consumers to buy it, or does taste truly matter.


Many taste tests have been developed and implemented across the United States. In one journal article an experiment was involving a private name and brand name cola. Test subjects were asked to taste two cups of cola; they were told that one was the new Lora Cola and one was Coca-Cola. Both cups were actually filled with Coca-cola. It was found that people who are typically loyal to Coca-Cola thought Coca-cola was better. People who typically buy private brands seem more open to the new drink. (Zaichkowsky, 1996) The most famous comparison being Coke vs. Pepsi, which over time has proven but one thing, people know the difference between Coke and Pepsi by taste alone and are very loyal to their drink of choice.

Even though there is a distinct taste difference between Coke and Pepsi there isn't as big a difference between Chek and Coke. As well as a few other, off shoot brands that come very close to either Pepsi or Coke. This is where we will figure out whether it is the taste that brings in customers or if it's the label alone.

The real world relevance is if our experiment shows that people for example rate Coke as the best cola, but when they actually taste the beverage they rate Chek as the best, we will know that the label is what counts. This would help industries in the way that if they can find the formula to make Cola like Chek does, which is possibly cheaper to make, but yet keep the Coke label on it they will make a lot larger profit then they are currently making. This happens often when someone finds a good quality product and put that product name on another less quality product. Testing has found that people that have a bad experience with a lower-quality private brand it raises their evaluation of the national brand. Also if they have a good experience their evaluation of the national brand is lowered. (Zaichkowsky, 1996) "Private labels are appealing in that their lower prices appear to allow consumers to limit the financial risk to which they are exposed. However, if a private label brand is of a lower level of quality than a national brand it competes against, the price a consumer may pay for the lower level financial risk provided by a private label is the acceptance of a higher levels of functional and/or social risk." (DelVecchio, 2001) Today it is a constant battle between national brands and private brands. "Private label brands represent a significant threat to their national label competitors. Throughout the past two decades private labels have accounted for between 12 and 20% of yearly grocery sales in the United States. (Hoch and Banerji, 1997) Compared to UK the United States does not buy as many private names, by 20%. (Dick, 1996) Another aspect of private verse national is the store aesthetics. Basically if a person is in a store that is unclean or out of date they are more likely to buy the national name then a private name from that store. (Richardson, 1996) A name can go a lot farther then the product that's in it. That is what we believe we'll be proving.

Britney Spears with Pepsi

Our studies contribution to the greater base of human knowledge will include whether the consuming populace contributes more to corporate profits simply because they spend more money promoting their product.

Materials and Methods

We will stand outside of Alexander Dining Hall on a weekend(Saturday and Sunday) during the allotted time for dinner. We will get 50 responses each day.

We are interested in collecting the information of our participants' sex because we want to analyze whether one product tastes better to one sex over the other. Also, to see if one sex is more accurate in their ratings of how they believe they will rate the tested products. Taste tester selection: We will take anyone who agrees to do the study until we reach our maximum number of participants for the day. To avoid any rare allergic reactions, testers will know they are tasting colas.

Procedures :

     1) Recruit participants going into Alexander Dining Hall by asking them if they will participate in an experiment studying the perceived and actual tastes of colas.

     2) We will record their sex and ask them five survey questions. We will also ask them to rate how they think that the selected four brands will taste in order from 1 to 4(one being the highest) and their sex.

     - What do you typically buy?

     - Does advertising effect you?

     - Have you ever heard of Chek?

     - How often do you drink soda?

     - Which soft drink do you remember last seeing an advertisement for?

     3) They anonymously tasted the colas and then ranked from best to worst tasting. The cups had letters on the bottom to tell us which cola was which so that the tester could record the information once the participant has been excused.

Our most important material will be the sodas that we use. They will include Coke, Pepsi, RC, and Chek. We will also require 250 paper Dixie cups per day of testing. We will require writing utensils for participants, something hard to write on the data sheet with, such as a clipboard. We will also require a marker to write the letter of the cola on the bottom of the cups. Library References are also important materials, especially when we deal with advertising.

The class will be involved in our study by being our trial test subjects. Before conducting our tests in front of Alexander Dining Hall, we will run our tests on our classmates to insure that our data sheet is optimized for recording data and to provide ourselves with peer review before we conduct our tests so we do not have to go back.

Data Collection Sheet

On October 23 we explained our project to the class and conducted an experimental round of our tests. The results of testing our classmates will not be counted in our statistical data. These results were used to improve our actual experimental design. Modifications included adding survey questions and an awareness that there was a need to control the temperature.


After testing one hundred students we had obtained data that was adequate to draw conclusions from.

As one can see from this chart national brands are what the majority of people buy. Even with the option of buying something on sale buyers have a tendency to stay loyal to national brands.

This chart shows that people do not believe that advertising has an effect on them. In survey question number one people still preferred to buy the name brands, the only reason they would do so is advertising since the tastes have been proven equal. So people's belief that advertising does not have an effect on them is actually false, though we can understand why they would want to believe they think independently.

As displayed on the chart Chek is largely unknown by both sexes.

This graph displays that the majority of people are soda drinkers. While males are more likely to drink more than one soda a day, females are more likely to drink sodas only one or two times a week. The graph also shows that our participant population had prior experience with sodas.

By large margins Pepsi was the most recently seen advertisement. When compared to the chart of survey question number one, one can conclude that just because you recall an advertisement does not mean that your buying habits are instantly changed.



The brand names, Pepsi and Coke, did not have a significant difference between predicted and actual taste. Whereas, Chek's ranking was greatly improved by actual taste tests gaining a comparable position after being predicted dead last by 93% of our participants. There is no significant difference between male and female. In almost all of the tests responses were split almost equally. The variation can be explained by the difference in the number of responses recieved by each gender.

Based on the P-values shown on the predicted best tasting, actual best tasting, predicted worst tasting, and actual worst tasting graphs there is no statistical difference between the two data sets since none are below .05. We therefore accept the null hypothesis and reject the alternative hypothesis.

Interesting Facts

     - 64 people said they last saw and ad for Pepsi. 47 predicted it number one. Only 13 ranked it first in taste testing.

     - 93 people predicted Chek would be last. 42 ranked it tasting with in the first two places (top half).

     - 83 people had never even heard of Chek.

     - 41 people normally buy Coke. Only 19 ranked it first.

     - Of the 48 people that predicted Coke would be the best tasting, 9 ranked it dead last in actual taste.

     - 84% said that advertising did not have an effect on them and yet 79% buy name brands. Of those 79 people, 30 of them ranked a name brand cola worst.

Note: Lower numbers are better in this graph.

This is where our main conclusion comes from. This proves our hypothesis that people have a predetermined idea that name brands are better tasting when in actuality the taste is comparable to generic brands. The Spearman Rho tests help us evaluate that the two tests were not associated with each other. Although the numbers for both the tests are different are still consistant with our results that they are independent and we accept the null hypothesis.

Note: Lower numbers are better in these two graphs.

The graphs above are split by sex. Once again the Spearman Rho tests help us evaluate that we accept the null hypothesis.

Collected Data


Powerpoint Presentation

Quicktime Movie:

     - Procedures

     - Interesting Comments Made by Participants

Literature Citations

Kim, Chung and Anne Lavack and Margo Smith. "Consumer Evaluation of Vertical Brand Extensions and Core Brands." Journal of Business Research Vol. 52, Issue 3. June 2001. pp. 211-22. OhioLink. Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. 18 Oct. 2001. <>

DelVecchio, Devon. "Consumer perceptions of private label quality: the role of product category characteristics and consumer use of heuristics." Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services Vol. 8, Issue 5. September 2001. pp. 239-249. OhioLink Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. <>

Batra, Rajeev and Indrajit Sinha. "Consumer-level Factors Moderating the Success of Private Label Brands." Journal of Retailing Vol. 76, Issue 2. September 2000. pp. 175-191. OhioLink. Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. <>

Dick, Alan and Arun Jain and Paul Richardson. "How Consumers Evaluate Store Brands." Journal of Product and Brand Management Vol. 5 Issue 2. 5 June 1996. pp. 19-28. OhioLink. Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. <>

Zaichkowsky, Judith and Neil Simpson. "The Effect of Experience with a Brand Imitator on the Original Brand." Marketing Letters Vol. 7 Issue 1. January 1996. pp. 31-39. OhioLink. Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. <>

Richardson, Paul and Arun Jain and Alan Dick. "The Influence of Store Aesthetics on Evaluation of Private Label Brands." Journal of Product and Brand Management. Vol. 5 Issue 1. 3 April 1996. pp. 19-28. OhioLink. Miami University - Oxford, Ohio. <>

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