Sunday, October 18, 2015

Is Your Brand A Loyalty Leader?


This year’s 2015 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders List – our 19th annual look at brand loyalty – found 85% of the top-20 companies represent digital technology and social networking brands or brands that facilitate digital technologies or social networking, although (whew!) consumers haven’t entirely abandoned traditional brands. But whether “digital” or “analog,” brand loyalty is still being driven by emotional engagement, and this year the top-20 Loyalty Leaders look like this:
  1. Netflix: video streaming
  2. Amazon: tablets
  3. Apple: smartphones
  4. Apple: tablets
  5. Facebook: social networking
  6. Google: search engines
  7. YouTube: social networking
  8. Amazon: online retail
  9. WhatsApp: instant messaging
  10. Amazon: video streaming
  11. Samsung: smartphones
  12. Zappos: online retail
  13. iTunes: video streaming
  14. Grey Goose: vodka
  15. Kindle: e-readers
  16. LinkedIn: social networking
  17. Dunkin’ Donuts: coffee
  18. PayPal: online payments
  19. Hyundai: automotive
  20. Twitter: social networking
Certain categories have risen to the top of the list because of the high levels of consumer engagement they’re able to generate. Combine that with development of the digital and mobile and social world and how it’s dramatically changed how consumers communicate and engage with each other and brands, and that’s resulted in equally dramatic shifts in the top-100 Loyalty Leaders List composition á la categories and brands.

Sure, some changes are due to the virtual disappearance of categories like Breakfast Cereal, Catalogs, and Digital Cameras, at least when it comes to survey incidence levels. But if you actually look at the actual marketplace, some of those shifts are, well, manifestly self-evident. Smartphones have replaced Digital Cameras. Online or mobile outreach now substitutes for last-century’s catalogs. Social Networking, Streaming Video, Tablets, and/or E-readers, nascent categories a decade ago, now account for the largest range of brands – 25% ­– on this year’s entire list. And yes, some shifts are due to the appearance of new brands or the inclusion of new categories. This year, 10 of the top-100 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders are new brands from ne categories and include Uber (#21), Zubrowka vodka (#30), Under Armour (#41), Ralph Lauren (#43), Chevrolet (#50), Old Navy (#57), HBO GO (#78), Forever 21 (#88), Home Depot (#95), and Microsoft Surface (#98). And here’s an overview of some of the other, overall changes as regards loyalty leadership:

Alcoholic Beverage brands have decreased by 40%. Search is down to only one brand. (If you guessed “Google” you’d be right!) Number of brands representing all Retail, Hotels, and Out-of-Home Coffee have remained generally unchanged, but Fast-Casual Restaurants, which have had dramatic effects in their own industry causing real problems for traditional Fast-Food brands, are having dramatic effects in the top-100, showing up in greater numbers every year. Oh, and that doesn’t take into account 2 Pizza brands on the list again this year. How consumers love their pizza! Automotive and Financial Service brands have doubled while Online Retailers increased by a factor of six. Only 8% of this year’s list represents cosmetic brands, but traditional retail brands nearly doubled this year. We suspect the consumer shift to online and mobile shopping has forced traditional retailers to work a lot harder to provide customers something more engaging than low-lower-lowest pricing strategies, and that success is showing up on both our Loyalty Leaders List and on their bottom lines.

Look, building real brand loyalty isn’t easy. Nothing worth having ever is. But the good news is that it is understandable. The better news is it can be quantified and predicted. And the best news is that knowing what’s coming down the road at you from a category, competitive, and consumer engagement perspective can give a brand an extraordinarily powerful advantage when it comes to planning, strategy, and innovation. What brand doesn’t want to stick it to its nearest competitor!?

There’s always a lot of talk about ROI and how that’s hard too. But here’s something you can do about it. Loyalty and brand engagement are leading-indicators of positive customer behavior and, axiomatically if consumers behave better toward your brand, you ought to see increased sales and profitability. QED. We invite you to look at brand movement up and down the list over the past year and calculate for yourselves those shifts with real market activity. There ‘s probably an app for that on one of your smartphone or mobile devices, and you’ll be surprised how strong that correlation turns out to be! And as loyal customers are the best annuity a brand can invest in, we strongly recommend engagement as a metric you ought to have in your brand planning toolbox.

It’s what brand leaders do.

Methodology

Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders analysis was conducted in September 2015 and includes assessments from 40,128 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, from the nine US Census Regions, who self-selected the categories in which they are consumers and the brands for which they are customers. Seventy-five percent (75%) were interviewed by phone, 20% via face-to-face interviews (to account for cell phone-only consumers), and remaining consumers assessed categories and brands online. This year the 2015 Loyalty Leader assessments examined 68 categories and 753 brands. And unlike economic use models, which rely heavily on historical data and profitability conjecture, the Brand Keys Loyalty Model and rankings are 100% consumer-driven, and are highly predictive of brand and corporate profitability.

For the complete top-100 2015 Loyalty Leaders List, click here.

For more information regarding the Brand Keys 2105 Loyalty Leaders List, a brand’s position on the list, or general information about integrating predictive loyalty and engagement metrics into your marketing efforts, or the upcoming January 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, please contact Leigh Benatar at leighb@brandkeys.com or 212-532-6028.




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.

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