A small number of companies control almost everything Americans buy.
From food to fashion to beer, choice is more often than not simply an illusion. Brands that seem to share nothing in common, like Gerber baby food and Hot Pockets, are often actually owned by the same company (in this case, Nestlé).
As a result, a handful of multi-billion dollar companies control everything from what we eat to how we dress.
Here are some charts that show how the “illusion of choice” has become an unavoidable reality for the modern American shopper.
10 companies control almost everything we eat.
Oxfam created this mind-boggling infographic that shows how interconnected these consumer brands really are.
Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez each employ thousands and make billions of dollars in revenue every year.
7 companies own the vast majority of popular beauty brands.
Skye Gould/Business Insider
A whopping 182 beauty brands fall under the massive umbrellas of seven huge manufacturers: Estée Lauder Companies, L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Shiseido, Johnson and Johnson, and Coty.
As a result, these conglomerates control the vast majority of the industry’s advertising in the US, essentially dictating how the country understands beauty.
The clothing industry is dominated by 10 companies.
According to a 2015 Morgan Stanley report, 10 companies control 41% of the clothing market. No other retailer has more than 2% of market share.
The retailers that dominate the market are Wal-Mart, T.J. Maxx, Macy’s, Gap, Kohl’s, Target, Ross Stores, Amazon, Nordstrom, and JCPenney.
A single beer giant makes up most of the world’s beer sales.
AB InBev — the maker of brands including Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois — and SABMiller — which makes brands like Fosters, Peroni, Miller, and Grolsch — are responsible for the majority of sales in the beer industry. And, in 2016, the two companies merged into one mega-giant.
According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch chart, in 2014 AB InBev and SABMiller alone controlled about 58% of the beer industry’s $US33 billion in global profits.