WASHINGTON, DC: Brands made by Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Unilever are among the products attracting the highest levels of loyalty among US shoppers, a new report has found.

The study was produced by Stores Magazine, owned by the National Retail Federation, and drew on data collected over the last year for Big Research's Consumer Intentions and Actions survey.

Participants were asked to identify the items they most frequently purchased in a variety of different sectors when shopping in supermarkets.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, came out on top in six categories overall, with its brands typically more than doubling the number of "mentions" posted by the second-best performer in each case.

Dawn took first place among dishwasher detergents, on 32%, with Bounty named as the leading paper towel, on 27%, a status that was also adopted by Tide in the laundry detergent segment, on 26%.

Charmin was the most popular toilet tissue, on 22%, with Downy also achieving the highest equity rating for a fabric softener, on 18%.

Similarly, Crest was regarded by respondents as being the premier toothpaste line, on 27%, but it was only marginally ahead of Colgate, which delivered a score of 24%.

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola was the foremost carbonated beverage brand, on 18%, with Pepsi's trademark cola on 13%, while Diet Coke was in third, on 5%.

Dansai, also made by the Atlanta-based soft drinks giant, was at the pinnacle of the bottled water rankings, on 6%, while Aquafina was on 5%.

With regard to breakfast cereals, Kellogg's received a total of 13%, with Cheerios on 12%, and General Mills, the latter brand's parent company, on 3%.

In-keeping with the results of a recent study by Harris Interactive, Hershey's had the strongest levels of loyalty for confectionary goods, on 14%, with M&M's on 7%, and Snickers on 5%.

Unilever's Dove and Breyer's ice cream headed the body soap and ice cream segments respectively, with PepsiCo's Lay's taking on this role for "salty snacks".

More broadly, despite noted tendencies towards "trading down" in the US during the downturn, store brands came inside the top three in just seven of the 20 categories assessed.

Retailers like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Supervalu have all announced their intention to delist under-performing brands, partly in an effort to create space for their own-label alternatives.

Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys, the consultancy, argued that while own-label has grown at the expense of some brands, a lack of differentiation is a more important issue.

"Discussions tend to revolve around brands versus private label, but the larger issue is really the need for brands and stores to avoid commodisation," he said.

"Too often the word value is equated with price – that's only part of it. Value is imbued with many levels of meaning, and therein lies the sweet spot for brands. It's not just price. It's trust and loyalty and much more."

Data sourced from Stores Magazine; additional content by Warc staff