Products on grocery store shelves
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Competing Brands That Are Actually Owned by the Same Company

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Products on grocery store shelves
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

All in the Family

Between big-box stores and online retailers, American consumers have access to an overwhelming plethora of options for most any product they wish to buy. Sometimes, however, those options aren't as varied as their brand names might indicate. Some companies practice "multi-branding," running apparently competing brands within the same industry to soak up more market share. We've listed some of the most egregious practitioners of multi-branding below, so you'll have a better idea where your money's going on future shopping trips.


Related: The Secret Histories of 25 Popular Brands

Expedia sign on top of an office building
rvolkan/istockphoto

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. As such, 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 multi-branding 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.


Related: Are You Making These Laundry Mistakes?

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 multiple 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
Wachiwit/istockphoto

Johnson's, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Aveeno

Johnson & Johnson is a multinational company based in New Jersey with diverse offerings in beauty and pharmaceutical products. For the former, 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).


Related: 21 Skin Care Tips to Keep You Looking Young for Less

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-Aids; 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, the American 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 active acquiring craft breweries like Four Peaks in Arizona, Elysian in Washington, Goose Island in Chicago, and Golden Road in California.


Related: The Bestselling Craft Beer in Every State

Lean Cuisine Frozen Dinner
DonNichols/istockphoto

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

This widely shared graphic from several years ago illustrates just how ubiquitous multi-branding is in the global snack food industry, dominated by the Swiss transnational company Nestlé. It fills up the freezer aisle with ready-made meal brands 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 the above).


Related: We Tasted 13 Frozen Pizzas and This Is the Best

Nestlé Purina Petcare facility in Mississauga, On, Canada.
JHVEPhoto/istockphoto

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 the more basic options while Fancy Feast offers fancier branding and higher protein content, albeit at a higher price comparable to smaller competitors.

Mars Candy
NoDerog/istockphoto

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

Nestlé's biggest competitor in the candy bar sphere is McLean, Virginia-based Mars, Inc. 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 non-sweet brands like Uncle Ben's Rice and Dolmio pasta sauces.


Related: 25 Candy Stores That Will Make You Feel Like a Kid Again

Wrigley Co. Gum
Samohin/istockphoto

Orbit, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Hubba Bubba, 5 Gum

Though wholly 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 in this vertical, nutritionist-developed Iams tends to cost more than dog-centric Pedigree and cat-centric Whiskas while offering negligible differences in protein and fiber content.


Related: 36 Popular Dog Breeds That Don't Shed

Taco Bell and KFC restaurant
tang90246/istockphoto

KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell

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


Related: The Most Popular Fast Food Chain in Every State

Smucker Co.
Smucker's

Smucker's, Jif

This may be the most insidious multi-branding scheme yet — the J.M. Smucker Co. producing the leading brands in both peanut butter and jelly? Yes, the 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 and ice cream toppings.


Related: 18 Things You Didn't Know About Peanut Butter and Jelly

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 including 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).


Related: Taste Test: Which Ice Cream Sandwiches Are the Best — and Worst?

Facebook
alexsl/istockphoto

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 buys, Instagram and WhatsApp, have continued to thrive in their respective niches of photo- and video-based social networking and mobile messaging.

Nike Store
wsfurlan/istockphoto

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 Oregon-based company also owns the basketball shoe brand Air Jordan and clothing brand Hurley.



Adidas
Kohlerphoto/istockphoto

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 United States but largely in the same market space, 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 like Chanel and Prada while also selling its own brands like 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
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto

Ball Park Franks, Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is the nation's largest meat and poultry processor, which it markets under well-known brand names like 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).


Related: We Tried 11 Hot Dogs and You Won't Believe Which One Was Best

Match.com webpage on the browser
brightstars/istockphoto

OkCupid, Tinder, Match

Match Group dominates the online dating market through acquisitions and multi-branding. 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 interface available in 11 languages. Tinder 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 America's most popular cookie- and cracker-based snacks, including but not limited to Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ritz Crackers, Belvita, Teddy Grahams, Nutter Butter, Oreos, and Chips Ahoy.