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Erin Lash's Take on Consumer Staples

Erin Lash is the Director for Consumer Equity Research at Morningstar Inc. She specializes in the sector of consumer staples (foods, household and personal care companies). Erin Lash has been working as an equity analyst since 2006. She was very kind to answer quite a few of my questions on consumer staples. 
How frequently do consumers switch consumer staples products, and is there a common cause to that behavior? 
There are no meaningful switching costs for end consumers. But leading players maintain the resources to support their brands at the shelf and defend their share position against the encroachment of smaller foes. We view marketing as a cost of doing business (not a source of competitive edge), since even value-added new products can fail if consumers don't know about them. However, this differentiates brands from private-label fare, where innovation and ad spend are deficient. Firms competing in commodity-like categories (where products turn fast and are often perishabl…
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