Are there Western conglomerates making a variety of products with the same brand?

The Japanese have a history of companies who are openly involved in a wide array of businesses - take Mitsubishi, who make everything from cars to ships to aircraft home electronics to airconditioning, all with the Mitsubishi brand.

Yamaha make outboard motors, pianos, stereos and outboard motors for boats,
while over in India you’ve got the Tata group, who make buses, cars, chemicals, tea and also operate satellite TV services and so on.

Now, I know there are plenty of “Western” conglomerates with diverse fingers in diverse pies, but I can’t think of many who have the same name on everything (or a lot of what they do) the way companies like Mitsubisha, Yamaha and Tata do, and more importantly in such diverse areas.

Who would be the closest Western equivalents to these companies? For the purposes of this question I’m not including companies which own a lot of other companies with different names and/or different areas of operation (the way, for example, Nestle owns a heap of confectionery and food companies/brands) - I’m looking for companies which make a lot of different stuff with one brand on it.

The closest I can think of would be the Virgin Group, who are involved in areas as diverse as airlines, financial service, mobile phone networks, publishing, soft drink manufacturing and radio stations.

Are there many others - and if not, why do you think that is?

General Electric springs to mind.

As does 3M and United Technologies.

Yeah, GE was the first thing that came to mind for me too.

Disney does quite a bit: Movies, TV, theme parks and resorts, cruises, branded merchandise, a string of Asian English schools, and even a housing development.

Bombardier even advertises as being the worlds sole manufacturer of both trains and planes, and until it sold that division, also did snowmobiles and related equipment. Not quite as diverse as “cruise missiles and diapers”, but still pretty broad.

General Mills and Unilever are also big ones, but as the OP says, in the western world these mega-conglomerates tend to market their products through a large number of brands and rather than directly.

Yes, I’ve often wondered about the incongruity of a biker showing up in Sturgis on a Steinway chopper, or playing Chopin in Carnegie Hall on a Harley Davidson piano. But Yamaha is suitable for both.

US businesses went through a conglomerate phase in the 70s or so, but MBA wisdom became that you concentrated on your core business and spin off all the rest. Most companies have done that by now.

Even GE did some: they sold their small appliance brand to Black & Decker.

Siemens is sort of the German version of GE, and Philips the Dutch equivalent.


Although you might think of building services as not being very diversified, you’d be wrong since it encompasses a huge number of associated activities, from architectural design, through drilling, construction to energy management systems. I believe they also have a custom software division for industrial solutions

All those parts in turn unfold into major industries in themselves

The Hubble Space Telescope optics were made by a company that started off making canning supplies. They’ve since spun off the canning operation, though, and now do exclusively aerospace.

Bic makes lighters, pens, and razors, among other products.

If you are going to go by branding, there are a LOT of companies with unrelated businesses making other stuff. Apparel especially. Caterpillar boots and work clothes, for instance:

Caterpillar is also making (or at least branding) a ruggedized Android phone:

Hmm? The HST optics were made (infamously, incorrectly) by Perkin-Elmer, which has always been an optics and analytical instruments company.

He might be thinking of Ball Aerospace, which did make the optics for other space telescopes. And at the time the issue with the Hubble optics came to light, Perkin-Elmer was, I believe, owned by General Motors (perhaps through Hughes Aerospace). The joke I heard was that one should have expected this problem when the company’s other products have mirrors with a warning that “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

Caterpillar boots, huh? They may have opened up a huge untapped market. :slight_smile:

And sailboats.

Especially if they branch out to millipedes …

BTW, note that this isn’t just an instance of the company selling logoed apparel at their own stores, which is REALLY something practically everybody does. The Caterpillar boot and shoe line is selling through regular shoe retailers, and also drifting pretty far from just work boots (Caterpillar women’s sandals?).

Cat’s not actually making the boots or clothes, however. They’ve licensed the brand name and logo to Wolverine World Wide, which is a footwear and apparel manufacturer. Wolverine makes a number of brands, including Hush Puppies and Saucony, as well as also making licensed apparel for Harley-Davidson.

These examples are not all the same company making the same think, but they have a common root, so sort of count (and the first two examples more explicitly count):

E. Remington and Sons made both firearms and typewriters. Those two interests split into two companies:

  1. Remington Arms, who now make firearms, as well as ammo, clothing, branded products, etc.

  2. Remington Typewriter Company, who made, umm… typewriters. But then they merged and became Remington Rand, and also became contracted by the military to manufacture some of the M1911 pistols. They also were a manufacturer of UNIVAC computer.

  3. Later Remington Rand started making electric shavers, and that part split off to Remington Products, also making other hair related products.

I have a Remington shotgun and a Remington shaver. If I wanna catch 'em all, I gotta look into what a UNIVAC will run me. :dubious:

ETA: although I might guess that Remington apparel and such aren’t literally made by them.

I think you meant motorcycles instead of the first “outboard motors”.

As I understand it, the two parts of Yamaha are virtually separate companies having only the name in common. While they have the same ownership, they don’t talk to each other at all.

There’s ACME, purveyors of all kinds of stuff from explosives to anvils. Just ask their most important customer, a certain Mr Coyote, for a recommendation.

The main reason is marketing. Most diversified companies in the US got that way by buying other companies. Those acquisitions already have an established brand, and it’d be foolish for the new owners to throw that brand away. After all, the brand recognition is often one of the biggest assets of the acquired company.

I think in Asia, companies are more likely to develop their own line of products when they want to diversify, rather than buying up another company.