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College of Business

College of BusinessCommerce News

February 15, 2002 -- News Brief

Battle of the Brands

Choices, choices, choices.

Students strolling through the Illini Union had a tasty surprise in store for them earlier this week. If they ventured near the open doors of a center room at the union, they were brought into the fold by members of the Graduate Marketing Association (GMA) from CCBA or members of the Food Lab in Bevier Hall. Once inside, students received a packet directing them to one of several tables in the room displaying an array of consumables. They began a food odyssey that included eating jam, drinking cola, devouring cookies, and chomping on carrots.

GMA students were interested in evaluations of brand-name products such as Cheerios versus their generic or house-brand counterparts (think Toasty O's). When you know what you are eating, do you like a brand name product more? What if you don't know which you are eating? National research says consumers prefer national brands but they pay a premium for that preference.

In addition, Bevier Lab chefs tempted participants with food samples in an attempt to determine if taste testers liked "Belgian Double Chocolate Cake" more than the prosaiclly named "cookie." Are people influenced by all those adjectives or not?

The study was also a favorite of Champaign, Springfield, and Chicago media. While the Champaign stories aired that night, the Springfield paper (the Journal-Register) will be doing a story for the front page of the Lifestyle section on Sunday, February 24th. FOX News in Chicago will be doing a special on the Battle of the Brands on Monday, February 23rd at 5:00 p.m.

The Battle of the Brands was organized by the Food and Brand Lab that conducts research into "why consumers buy what they buy and eat what they eat." Brian Wansink, associate professor of business administration, is the director of the lab. Results are pending.


Communications Office, 470C Wohlers Hall
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College of Business
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign