The 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has a candy company at the top. 

Hershey, with a score of 84 (out of 100), tied with Pepsi for the top brand spot on this year’s list. "All other brands," which include private label and smaller brands, was at 84 as well in 2019, up one point from 2018’s 83. 

Mars dropped to 82 in 2019, down from a score of  84 in 2018, while Nestle (Ferrero) dropped to 81 in 2019, down slightly from 82 in 2018. 

“Compared with other food makers, customer expectations are highest for Hershey and Mars chocolate products,” ACSI said. “In contrast, confectioner Nestlé (Ferrero) falls behind, with consumers expecting less from its candy. While the company has launched reformulations of some of its iconic brands, these efforts have not paid off in higher satisfaction. Nestlé remains nearly stable (-1 percent) at 81.” 

Overall, grocery food as a sector (which includes packaged food products ranging from chocolate, baked goods and cereals to meat, cheese and frozen foods) scored 82 in 2019 — the same score it got in 2018. 

“The industry overall continues to deliver strong quality, and customer perceptions of value are on the rise — although not enough to lift satisfaction higher overall,” ACSI said. 

The report also said food manufacturers are turning to technology to improve efficiencies to meet growing demand as well as enhance shelf life and food safety. 

“As innovations in packaging and processing continue, this could push customer satisfaction even higher for an industry that already performs in the ACSI’s Top Five,” ACSI said. “In fact, all measured food manufacturers score in the 80s — a level deemed excellent in the index.”

The slight increase in “All other brands,” also points to changing consumer preferences. 

“Quality perceptions have improved for the smaller brands and their value is deemed superior to all of the major manufacturers as they compete well when it comes to pricing,” ACSI said. 

About this report

The ACSI Nondurable Products Report 2018-2019 on food, soft drinks, beer, personal care and cleaning items, apparel and athletic shoes is based on interviews with 5,245 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between Oct. 8, 2018, and Sept. 14, 2019. Customers are asked to evaluate their experiences with recently purchased products of the largest manufacturers in terms of market share, plus an aggregate category consisting of “all other”— and thus smaller — companies in these industries.

The survey data are used as inputs to ACSI’s cause-and-effect econometric model, which estimates customer satisfaction as the result of the survey-measured inputs of customer expectations, perceptions of quality, and perceptions of value. The ACSI model, in turn, links customer satisfaction with the survey-measured outcomes of customer complaints and customer loyalty. ACSI clients receive confidential industry-competitive and best-in-class data on all modeled variables and customer experience benchmarks.

To download the full report, visit the ACSI website