a supermarket aisle
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Competing Brands That Are Owned by the Same Company

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a supermarket aisle
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All in the Family

Between big-box stores and online retailers, U.S. consumers have access to a wealth of options for most any product they wish to buy. Sometimes, however, the choices aren't as varied as the brand names might indicate. Some companies practice "multibranding," running apparently competing brands within the same industry to soak up more market share.


Related: The Secret Histories of 25 Popular Brands

Expedia sign on top of an office building
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Expedia, Orbitz, Trivago, Hotwire, Travelocity

Based in Bellevue, Washington, Expedia Group owns most all the major travel fare aggregators and metasearch sites you probably use when planning a vacation, including CheapTickets, Orbitz, Travelocity, and its namesake, Expedia. It's the reason that all the sites tend to return similar, if not identical, booking options. Expedia has been actively acquiring competing travel booking services since 2000, with its major remaining competitor being Priceline, which also owns Kayak and Booking.com.


Related: Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began

Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo
Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences

Procter & Gamble is a multinational corporation headquartered in Cincinnati, as well as one of the world's foremost practitioners of multibranding in cleaning and personal care products, even after selling off more than 40 brands in 2015. In hair care, P&G markets the brands Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Pantene, and Aussie.


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Tide Laundry Detergent
Tide Laundry Detergent by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Gain, Ariel, Tide, Downy, Bounce, Cheer

Procter & Gamble also dominates the laundry aisle with ubiquitous brands like industry leader Tide, as well as smaller discount brand Bonux, dryer sheet brand Bounce, baby detergent brand Dreft, and extra-whitening detergent brand Ariel. The widely varied Tide family is generally ranked ahead of other P&G detergents, followed by Gain, more heavily scented but less proficient at removing stains.

Bounty Paper Towels
Bounty Paper Towels by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Febreze, Puffs, Bounty, Charmin

In addition to products that clean hair and laundry, P&G has numerous brands devoted to cleaning the home. Its small army of products includes iconic names like Mr. Clean, Swiffer, Cascade (dishwashing detergents), Dawn (dishwashing liquids), Febreze (odor eliminators), Charmin (toilet paper), and Bounty (paper towels).

Johnson's baby powder
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Johnson's, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Aveeno

Johnson & Johnson is a multinational company based in New Jersey with diverse offerings in beauty and pharmaceutical products. Its skin care lines include Johnson's Baby, Johnson's Adult, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear (designed specifically for teens), Aveeno (emphasizing "active natural" ingredients in its branding), Neutrogena, and Le Petit Marseillais (France).

Tylenol

Tylenol, Benadryl, Neosporin, Band-Aid

Most first-aid kits are full of Johnson & Johnson products. For knee scrapes and paper cuts, it has Band-Aid bandages; for fevers and pain relief, Tylenol and Motrin; for allergies, Zyrtec, Sudafed, and Benadryl.

Anheuser-Busch InBev
Anheuser-Busch

Budweiser, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Elysian, Goose Island

Originally formed through successive mergers of three international brewing groups, Anheuser-Busch InBev is the world's largest brewing company by a long shot. It merged with SABMiller in 2015 to acquire 30% of the global market share. Its internationally marketed brands include, among many others, U.S. lager Bud Light, Belgian pilsner Stella Artois, and Beck's, brewed in Bremen, Germany (and still in accordance with the German Beer Purity Law of 1516). In recent years, the company has also been actively acquiring craft breweries, including Four Peaks in Tempe, Arizona, Elysian in Seattle, Goose Island in Chicago, and Golden Road in Los Angeles.

Lean Cuisine Frozen Dinner
DonNichols/istockphoto

Stouffer's, Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisine, DiGiornio, Buitoni

Perhaps no sector demonstrates the ubiquity of multibranding quite like the global snack food industry, dominated by Swiss transnational company Nestlé. It fills up the freezer aisle with ready-made foods like Hot Pockets (enclosed sandwiches), Lean Pockets (less fattening enclosed sandwiches), DiGiornio (pizza), California Pizza Kitchen (fancier, thinner-crust pizza), Stouffer's (TV dinners), Lean Cuisine (less fattening TV dinners), and Sweet Earth ("all natural," veg-friendly versions of all of these items).

Nestlé Purina Petcare facility in Mississauga, On, Canada.
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Friskies, Fancy Feast, Purina

Nestlé products also feed the country's pets under leading brand names. In dry and wet food, Purina and Friskies are more basic options while Fancy Feast offers fancier branding and higher protein content, albeit at a higher price comparable to smaller competitors.

Mars Candy
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Milky Way, M&M's, 3 Musketeers, Dove, Twix, Snickers

Nestlé's biggest competitor in the candy bar sphere is McLean, Virginia-based Mars. Many of Mars' original products are iconic convenience store fixtures that need no description, but it also markets lesser-known confections like Bounty (U.K.-famous coconut bars), Kudos (granola cereal bars), and Maltesers (malted milk balls), plus staples like Ben's Original Rice and Dolmio pasta sauces.

Wrigley Co. Gum
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Orbit, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Hubba Bubba, 5 Gum

Though owned by Mars, the Wrigley Co. is in a sense its own corporate empire founded on chewing gum. It markets many of the most common breath fresheners, like Spearmint (minty), Juicy Fruit (fruity), Big Red (cinnamon-spicy), Hubba Bubba (bubble gum), Extra (sugar-free), and Altoids (mints).

Tel Aviv, Israel, 01152020 - Minivan decorated with brand of Whiskas cat food (Whiskas is international brand of cat food)
Eli Ratner/istockphoto

Iams, Pedigree, Whiskas

Mars is also Nestlé's biggest rival in pet food. Of its three biggest brands, nutritionist-developed Iams tends to cost more than dog-centric Pedigree and cat-centric Whiskas, while offering negligible differences in protein and fiber content.

Taco Bell and KFC restaurant
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KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell

Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum Foods has its bases covered when it comes to fast food. It owns the overall second-largest chain in the industry (KFC), the largest pizza chain (Pizza Hut), and the largest Tex-Mex chain (Taco Bell).

Smucker Co.
Smucker's

Smucker's, Jif

The J.M. Smucker Co. produces the leading brands of both peanut butter and jelly, an example of just how integrated multibranding can get. The Orrville, Ohio-based food manufacturer makes both Smucker's fruit spreads and Jif nut butters, as well as a wide assortment of food products associated with them — like Uncrustables frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ice cream toppings.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream by Michael Kappel (CC BY-NC)

Good Humor, Breyers, Popsicle, Klondike, Magnum, Ben & Jerry's

Unilever is another transnational company that's behind a disquieting number of the world's most popular consumer products. It's especially big in prepackaged ice cream as Good Humor-Breyers, with a portfolio that includes the world's most popular brand Magnum (chocolate-dipped bars marketed as shapely and refined), plus competitors like Klondike (square-shaped bars), Ben & Jerry's (creative, often celeb-sponsored flavors), and now Talenti (gelato).

Facebook
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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

Facebook is a massive social networking company that's redefined how we interact as well as how we get our news, and it's been active in acquisitions since its founding, absorbing 85 other companies since 2005. Most of these, like Friendster and Lightbox, were subsequently shut down, but two of its biggest purchases, Instagram and WhatsApp, have continued to thrive in their respective niches of photo- and video-based social networking and mobile messaging.

Nike Store
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Nike, Converse

In the online backlash caused by Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign, some online commenters pledged to boycott the athletic footwear manufacturer in favor of competitors like Converse, unaware the sneaker brand has been owned by Nike since 2003. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company also owns basketball shoemaker Air Jordan and clothier Hurley.



Adidas
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Adidas, Reebok

Second only to Nike in global footwear sales is the German multinational corporation Adidas, whose marketing similarly focuses on athletic use. Reebok operates as a subsidiary based in the U.S. but largely vying for the same customer, manufacturing shoes and apparel, while sponsoring sports leagues like CrossFit and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Ray Ban Shades
Ray Ban Shades by awee_19 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ray-Ban, Oakley, LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut

Luxxotica is the world's largest eyewear company, vertically integrated to design, manufacture, market, and sell more than 40 glasses brands internationally. It supplies sunglasses and prescription frames for separate designer brands, such as Chanel and Prada, while also selling its own brands, including Ray-Ban (known for its iconic American Aviator and Wayfarer lines), Persol (luxury frames originally marketed to pilots and race car drivers), and Oakley (sports goggles and travel gear as well as standard sunglasses) at jointly owned retailers like LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.

Tyson Foods
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Ball Park Franks, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean

Tyson Foods is the nation's largest meat and poultry processor, which it markets under well-known brand names, such as Hillshire Farm (smoked sausages and kielbasa), Ball Park Franks (Detroit Tigers-approved hot dogs), Jimmy Dean (breakfast sausages), and Aidells (small batch all-natural sausages featuring unusual flavor combinations like pineapple and bacon).

Match.com webpage on the browser
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OkCupid, Tinder, Match

Match Group dominates the online dating market through acquisitions and multibranding. Match.com is the original iteration launched in 1994 and now available in 25 countries, while OkCupid offers a more algorithmic-based matching system, and PlentyofFish is a more conversation-based app that's available in 11 languages. There's also Tinder, which is advertised as the world's leading app for meeting new people, most known for facilitating semi-anonymous hookups whenever both parties swipe right.

Nabisco
NoDerog/istockphoto

Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ritz

Nabisco is a subsidiary of the transnational food giant Mondelez International that's responsible for many of the most popular cookie- and cracker-based snacks, including Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ritz Crackers, Belvita, Teddy Grahams, Nutter Butter, Oreos, and Chips Ahoy.