Stocks to buy

Our 7 Top Consumer Stock Picks for 2023

While household sentiment regarding financial expenditures slipping to near all-time recorded lows, the idea of top consumer stock picks for 2023 might seem unusually risky. Obviously, though, we no longer live in a society where individual families tended to their own needs. Rather, we outsource many services, choosing instead to align career paths with our abilities and/or talents.

That’s a complicated way of saying that consumer stock picks for 2023 remain relevant, even under current circumstances. With very few people being their own farmers, tailors and dentists, if you want to live in the modern world, you’re going to have to open your wallet. And certain companies and industries enjoy inelastic demand, making them indelible. While the defensive consumer sector may be boring, boring is good ahead of a potential recession. Therefore, these are the top consumer stock picks for 2023.

PEP PepsiCo $183.42
UL Unilever $50.65
CL Colgate-Palmolive $77.85
PM Philip Morris $101.55
KR Kroger $47.36
TJX TJX Companies $79.19
PG Procter & Gamble $151.26

PepsiCo (PEP)

Pepsi (PEP) Factory in Samara, Russia. Pepsi logo on a blue warehouse.

Source: FotograFFF / Shutterstock

One of the classic ideas among the top consumer stock picks for 2023, PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) may enjoy a recessionary-resistant business. Back during the Great Recession, Pepsi’s biggest rival Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) enjoyed attention from some analysts for its resilient financial profile. Where both brands share similarities is that they facilitate the cheap pick-me-up thesis.

As scientific studies demonstrate, sugary sodas attract consumers because of their addictive ingredients. “In regular sodas, the sugar causes dopamine releases in the brain, stimulating pleasure centers,” stated Natalie Stephens for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Moving forward, should we encounter either a domestic or global recession, it’s very possible that people will seek out escapism. A dopamine release may be just what the doctor ordered, making PEP one of the cynically oriented top consumer stock picks for 2023.

Ironically, Pepsi is no slouch in the financial department. Although some of its core metrics could use some work, it enjoys excellent profit margins, as well as return on equity. Therefore, it enjoys the same qualities that made its rival a big hit during the last recession.

Unilever (UL)

The blue Unilever sign next to the desk inside de head office in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Source: BYonkruud / Shutterstock.com

Among the most diverse consumer stock picks for 2023, Unilever (NYSE:UL) benefits from several recognizable brands. On the (literal) consumption angle, the company’s Ben & Jerry’s line of ice cream products is always a treat. In addition, Unilever commands significant strengths in the personal and beauty care segment with brands like Vaseline, Axe, and Dove.

Fundamentally, Unilever also spearheaded initiatives designed to foster social equity. According to a McKinsey & Company report, people are willing to pay a small premium for responsibly sourced products. Given that Unilever’s pricing isn’t outrageously excessive compared to industry norms, management’s emphasis on doing good can be profitable. After all, millennials and Generation Z care strongly about various social issues – and they represent the future of consumption.

On the financial front, Unilever attracts investors because of its present zero-debt profile. This gives the organization greater flexibility during rough times. Therefore, UL represents one of the top consumer stock picks for 2023.

Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

Colgate toothpaste and mouthwash in a cup with a toothbrush

Source: monticello / Shutterstock.com

According to a study of common fears in the context of mental conditions, dental phobia apparently caused the most stress among survey participants. It’s not surprising and it also provides a cynical catalyst for Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL). Therefore, it’s a name to consider when assessing consumer stock picks for 2023.

During the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, people avoided health-related offices for fear of contracting Covid-19. Of course, the global health crisis provided a readymade excuse to avoid the dentist. Indeed, The Washington Post wrote an op-ed about the phenomenon.

However, another pandemic – an economic one – might convince people to once again avoid the dentist’s chair. This time, a combination of high prices and natural revulsion of the practice may lead to missed appointments. Still, people aren’t going to let their dental health go just because of their phobias and financial pressures. Therefore, I anticipate Colgate-Palmolive to be one of the top consumer stock picks for 2023 out of sheer necessity (and perhaps desperation).

Philip Morris (PM)

packs of cigarettes in convenience store rack

Source: defotoberg / Shutterstock.com

Though ranking among the more controversial names for consumer stock picks for 2023, Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) could see surprising demand in the months ahead. Already, the tobacco giant proved its worth. Since the start of the year, PM stock gained over 6% of market value. While not an astounding performance by any means, it’s a whole lot better than what the S&P 500 put out.

Currently, the benchmark equities index slipped 18% on a year-to-date basis.

While global smoking prevalence declined since 1990, certain circumstances can change this dynamic. Most prominently, the specter of a worldwide economic slowdown can contribute to increased stress levels. In turn, this dynamic could spark increased prevalence as a means of escapism.

Also, it’s worthwhile to note that many have turned to vaping for exercising their personal liberties. This too should help pad Philip Morris’ bottom line, making it an intriguing idea for consumer stock picks for 2023.

Kroger (KR)

Kroger (KR) Supermarket. The Kroger Co. is One of the World's Largest Grocery Retailers.

Source: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock.com

Perhaps the most obvious idea among consumer stock picks for 2023, Kroger (NYSE:KR) fundamentally gets on this list for addressing critical demand. As a general rule, Everydayhealth.com notes that humans need a minimum of 1,200 calories daily to stay healthy. If you don’t get that minimum, bad things happen. Therefore, KR also represents a cynical trade.

On a less macabre note, Kroger also benefits from being near the bottom of the trade-down effect. When consumers face financial pressures, they don’t necessarily stop all discretionary spending. Instead, they keep trading down to lower-cost alternatives until they reach equilibrium. While cheaper competitors to Kroger exist, they’re usually dollar-discount stores: not exactly the healthiest choice.

Further, you can make the case that KR offers an undervalued prospect among top consumer stock picks for 2023. Currently, the market prices Kroger at 11 times forward earnings. In contrast, the sector median value stands at 16.8 times.

TJX Companies (TJX)

a person carrying several shopping bags

Source: Shutterstock

Back during the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, the Washington Post published an op-ed referring to the then landscape as a “pajama moment.” With white-collar workers operating remotely, it didn’t really matter what folks were wearing. Even during teleconferencing sessions, as long as you look presentable from the waist up, no problems materialized.

However, this dynamic probably won’t last forever, which may bode well for TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX). Specializing in off-price apparel, TJX may gain relevance as companies recall their workers back to the office. According to Resume Builder, 90% of companies surveyed will require their employees to return to corporate campuses at least part of the week starting in 2023.

If folks have to go back to their cubicles, they’re going to need to upgrade their wardrobe. However, with the personal saving rate dramatically plunging since April 2020, discretionary funds may be running lean. Therefore, TJX would look much more compelling than normal, making it one of the consumer stock picks for 2023.

Procter & Gamble (PG)

Procter & Gamble Union Distribution Center. P&G is an American Multinational Consumer Goods Company

Source: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Usually, I like to go for a speculative company with strong growth potential with the last idea. However, for this list of top consumer stock picks for 2023, I’m going to go boring with Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). Why not? When you’re going defensive, you don’t want to get too wild. With PG, you get a dependable investment you can trust.

As a household goods giant, it’s difficult to imagine that Procter & Gamble won’t regain its footing. Sure, its shares slipped nearly 8% YTD. However, if a recession materializes, available consumer funds will redirect toward the essentials, with the remainder (if any) moved toward discretionary purchases. Stated differently, Procter & Gamble enjoys inelastic demand. No matter what happens in the economy, people will purchase basic everyday goods.

Further, in the trailing month, PG gained nearly 10%, which suggests that the market is catching on. With economic pressures building, it may be time to consider this oldie but goodie.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.

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