On the eve of their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina in London the All Blacks have tasted defeat on home soil.

Richie McCaw and his mighty men in black have been pipped in a new survey revealing New Zealand's most adored brands.

For the fourth year running Whittaker's chocolate has topped Colmar Brunton's annual research of which homegrown brands the nation is most fond of.

The All Blacks jumped four placings from last year to take second spot - but even World Cup fever wasn't enough to push them ahead of Whittaker's.


"It is no surprise the All Blacks moved up the rankings this year but the result simply underlines what a loved and popular brand Whittaker's is in New Zealand," Jacqueline Farman, Colmar Brunton chief executive, said.

"Maybe the team needs a big box of Peanut Slabs sent over to them to keep them going."

Whittaker's reputation for being innovative and trustworthy is part of the company's strength, Farman said.

"Sticking with Nigella Lawson to front their advertising after she had some well publicised personal problems says a lot. They did not walk away from her when the chips were down and that kind of loyalty is a value Kiwis admire."

Holly Whittaker, the chocolate firm's marketing manager, said for the past three years Lawson had helped drive the premium positioning of their brand.

"Nigella personifies indulgence, sophistication and class yet she is a warm and real person," she said. "She resonates well with both men and women."

Tip Top came third in the listings followed by Air New Zealand then Pineapple Lumps.

Homegrown retail brands also fared well this year. Mitre 10 and New World came joint 8th along with Marmite and The Warehouse moved up 10 places to 13th.

"Expectations of fair value from Kiwi companies are especially tough, but it's not just about the price, it's about the whole package: range, location, convenience, a great shopping experience and a clear purpose that makes you different," Farman said.

"Here are three retail brands doing that well, and building strong reputations as a result."

Buying New Zealand-made is important for Kiwis, especially when buying food products, according to the survey.

"Fresh fruit and veges and dairy products are where it matters most to buy New Zealand-made, but we also make it a priority in other food categories such as frozen or tinned fruit and veges, and confectionery," Farman added.