Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Unfriending Facebook & Other Brand Life Lessons

The contribution “trust” made to brand loyalty increased average of 250% across the 100 sectors and 1,257 brands we track. 

That was January 2019. It’s up again the first-half of this year too. Another 39%.

How well brands meet expectations for “trust” ultimately determines their success or failure, which is why major brands are extraordinarily unhappy with how Facebook handles hate speech and real fake news. Unilever PLC, Coke, Levi’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Hershey, Verizon and Patagonia – nearly 100 advertisers in total – have joined a Facebook boycott.

That’s Brand Life Lesson 101: Your brand will be judged by the company it keeps. Or, in this case, where they advertise. Or as Unilever put it, “Continuing to advertise (on Facebook) at this time would not add value to people or society.” Nor (not-so-coincidently) to brand loyalty or their bottom line.

Facebook’s stock dropped 8% Friday. The company denied its policies are influenced by economic agendas, then announced it would begin labeling extremist and inflammatory content that are still deemed newsworthy. We’ll leave it to you to decide how much trust you put into those coincidences.

For an analysis by MediaPost’s Sarah Mahoney of the opening boycott salvo, read this

Oh, and Brand Life Lesson 102: When your brand is likely to be judged badly by the company it keeps, find new company!


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Some Pizza Mind During The Pandemic

We specialize in brand loyalty because it predicts positive consumer behavior and, axiomatically, positive sales and profit growth.

You’re smart to incorporate loyalty into your brand research, but you don’t need an MBA to know market conditions and financial management have a lot to do with whether or not a brand ends up in Chapter 11. We considered this fact-of-marketing-life when we read that Chuck E. Cheese is facing Chapter 11 and a $1 billion debt, which is a lot of dough for any sector, but genuinely surprising for the pizza category. 

Why surprising? Americans eat 8 billion pizza pies a year and one might reasonably have presumed the pizza category was well-positioned to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. It was already structured for delivery and take out. Far better than other restaurant sectors that had to invent new business models to deal with the shutdowns and the shut-ins.

Do you have a favorite pizza brand? See how they did – loyalty and share-wise – in our new analysis in The Customer.

Customers look for comfort during chaotic times and comfort food helps. Pizza is the #1 comfort food in the United States and 65% of consumers indicated they sought out pizza when they ordered in during the current pandemic. 

But the marketing perspective bottom-line is, brands can find comfort – bigger shares and bigger profits – from increased levels of loyalty. 

Because it turns out customer loyalty metrics also deliver.



Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

George Floyd Protests, COVID-19 and the “Oil Spill” Effect On Consumer Expectations.

You can’t just say, “We’re all in it together” or “Black lives matter” without doing something! It’s not that easy! Consumers expect you to do something! Expectations are hopes & dreams. Brands that best meet those hopes and dreams always see better reactions  from consumers. And sales, loyalty, and profits. But none of that is easy either.

The “Oil Spill” Effect:
Expectations are like oil spills. They don’t stay in one spot. They spread. Categories are different, sure, but categories are not insulated. No category remains unaffected. Expectations seep from one category to another. In this instance the coronavirus, the killing of Georg Floyd, the protests, and the Post Office all contributed to the current significant expansion of expectations.

Want to know how? Read this.

Consumers Want More! 
Consumer expectations – a critical indicator of loyalty and profitability – are up +37% YOY. How well a brand meets them always determines success or failure. The 5 categories with the largest expectation growth included:

·      Pharmaceutical Companies (+61%)
·      Pharmacies (+61%)
·      Household Cleaning Products (+59%)
·      Health & Hygiene Products (+57%)
·      Self Defense [Guns] (+54%)

What happened in your category?
-->For a free analysis of how much expectations have increased in your category, contact Leigh Benatar at leighb@brandkeys.com. After all, we’re all in this together.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Is Starbucks Still Starbucks?

The historical explanation for why consumers were willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee they could get at a street corner cart or diner for a buck is something called the “Starbucks Experience.” 

You know, that it was a kind of Euro-cool experience where you could sit, read a newspaper, close your eyes and feel as if you were sitting at an outdoor cafe in Paris or Rome. Or, simply, someplace to plug in your computer, tap into the wi-fi, and work at your own leisurely pace. 

As loyalty is much more emotional than rational, those experiences accounted for 87% of the raison d'ĂȘtre (or “scopo” in Italian) to the consumer inclination to fork out significantly more dough for a cup of joe. So, it’s an emotional thing to be sure.

But what if you remove that part of the out-of-home coffee equation? If the “Starbucks Experience” disappears, is Starbucks still Starbucks? Take a look at an answer to that enigma in Fast Casual Magazine or The Customer.


For lots of out-of-home coffee consumers, coffee is more than just a caffeine delivery-system. It’s an experience. Something Starbucks – and all brands that rely on UX strategies – need to remember.



Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

How To Avoid Bankrupting Your Brand

It’s an unfortunate bi-product of the COVID-19 crisis. Ill health of and the ultimate passing of brands.

Current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 have decimated some company revenues and are pushing already-struggling companies over the edge into Chapter 11. But as marketers and brand consultants, recent Chapter 11 filings by brands like J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, and most recently, J.C. Penney DID NOT come as a surprise to us.

According to our 2020 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, J.C. Penney has been #8 (of 8 sector brands we track) when it came to customer loyalty for the past 4 years. Five years ago, they were #6, but have moved down after that. So last.

And no surprise that J.C. Penney’s sales have fallen every year since 2015. That tracks perfectly with its customer loyalty assessments, which are leading-indicators of customer behavior, sales, and profitability. For more details, we invite you to read this recent analysis.

Yes, factors other than customer loyalty do contribute to the collapse of brands as J.C. Penney’s 2011 CEO, Ron Johnson, found when he eliminated discounts in favor of everyday low prices and killed off in-house brands. He also killed off customer loyalty.

Customer loyalty metrics alerted us to that Mr. Johnson’s blunder back then because it went contrary to how consumers view the Ideal in the category and, ultimately, how they view, compare, buy, and buy again from brands that best meet customers’ expectations for their Ideal. 

J.C. Penney didn’t, J.C. Penney doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what consumers expect and, as a result, J.C. Penney hasn’t made an annual profit in nearly a decade. All the debt restructuring in the world is no substitute for real customer loyalty metrics.

If configured and tracked properly, customer loyalty metrics give your brand the capability to avoid Chapter 11.

And – even in trying times like these – escape the ultimate passing of your brand. 



Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Effects of COVID-Enforced Couch-Potatoing

If you feel like you’re living the definition of “cabin fever,” you’re not alone! 

Despite, zoom, skype, emails, and texts, despite house cleaning, closet cleaning, and an on-going search for cleaning products, it’s all starting to become a little mind-numbing. It also explains why, as a sheltering-in activity, watching movies is significantly down even if availability of new movies and TV shows is significantly up.

Constant TV and movie viewing has become tiring and tedious. When you’ve binged for 12 hours straight and discover you’re on a first-name basis with morning news hosts, the too-much-of-a-good-thing syndrome kicks in.  That syndrome always results in a big shift in consumer behavior.

How big? Listen to discussion between Mike Giambattista, publisher of TheCustomer and Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys about recent consumer shifts here.

We’ll be continuing to track consumer sentiment to gauge how people’s expectations, perceptions, and behaviors continue to change throughout the coronavirus crisis. Consumers are both adaptive and contextual decision-makers, and brands need to be ready once the cabin fever breaks.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

What Retail Does Next

We’re pretty sure if we’ve learned anything in the past 90 days, it’s that there’s no playbook for closing and then re-opening a state. 

Sure, there are “guidelines,” but when it comes to retail, it’s going to be a lot different. “Re-marketing” will be the prevailing strategic objective for the rest of 2020.

Here are some helpful hints from Pymts, entitled “Reopening Faces Its Next Challenge: Retail Marketing.

As things continue to  “open up” there is sure to be a resettling and recalibration of what consumers really expect. Retailers in all sectors need to be comfortable and realistic as to what they can – and should – deliver.

Let us know if Brand Keys can help you prepare for what’s next.

Be well and be safe.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.