New data from leading marketing information provider The NPD Group show restaurant operators are almost evenly divided in their preference for manufacturer or distributor brands. In a survey of more than 4,000 operators for NPD BrandMeasure(SM), the firm reported that 40% preferred manufacturer brand products while 33% preferred distributor brands.

The survey results not only point up a surprisingly close competition between the brands, but also highlight a large area of opportunity: Nearly 25% of operators had no preference or were undecided.

"That one-quarter of the market means thousands and thousands of restaurant operators to a seller," states Brian Darr, director of the NPD Foodservice Information Group®. "Both manufacturers and distributors stand to gain if they understand operators' needs and demonstrate how their product helps operators' business. Brands have a great deal more opportunity for further penetration."

Manufacturer brands have the strongest foothold in the midscale segment of the commercial market. Forty-seven percent of midscale dining operators prefer using manufacturer-labeled products, compared to 36% of casual dining operators.

"The sales and marketing implications for the manufacturer brands in the midscale segment are tremendous," states Darr. "As operators move to increase their share of the consumer dollar, manufacturers stand to make a big gain as well."

On the other hand, distributor brands are preferred more often (44% of the time) throughout the on-site/non-commercial segments such as healthcare, nursing homes, schools, colleges/universities, businesses and industry employee feeding.

Operators are keenly aware of the equity that some brands have with consumers who visit their establishments. When asked about their brand preference for the front of their establishment versus the back, respondents reported that when used in bulk form, they were indifferent between manufacturer and distributor labels. On the other hand, when asked about tabletop and front of the establishment display for consumer use, the manufacturer brand product was strongly preferred.

About BrandMeasure(SM)

BrandMeasure, a product of the NPD Foodservice Information Group, is an analysis of brands, product category penetration and estimated volume usage in commercial and non-commercial foodservice establishments. By interviewing via telephone over 4,000 operators per data collection period across 20 segments (15 commercial, 5 non-commercial) of the foodservice industry, BrandMeasure provides manufacturers with the ability to track their market share, their competitors' market share and understand product penetration by operator segment or the 9 census regions. Information can also be broken out by various product features, such as flavor, pack size, form, etc. For additional information on BrandMeasure, contact Annie Roberts at 847/692-1805 or

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group is an international marketing information company headquartered in Port Washington, NY. Founded in 1953, the firm specializes in providing insight into consumer purchasing and behavior via both Internet-based and traditional research methodologies, including online and offline consumer panels and point-of-sale tracking.

NPD offers proprietary databases and research expertise in more than 20 industries, including apparel,automotive products, consumer electronics, cosmetics and fragrances, financial services, food, foodservice, footwear, housewares, information technology, interactive entertainment, new media, pharmaceuticals, toys, and more. The firm also offers a full range of analytical tools for ad hoc research. NPD is the developer of the revolutionary Web audience measurement technology now marketed by its successful spin-off Media Metrix, Inc. NPD has offices and affiliations in 36 countries, covering North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. For more information about NPD, visit