Monday, August 13, 2018

Who Are The 20 Most Innovative Tech Brands?

Our 6th annual Most Innovative Tech Brands survey found consumers’ identification with brands and innovation continues to broaden and transform categories.

The 21st century may not have delivered on the promise of flying cars, but it is clearly meeting its potential in better meeting consumers’ technological innovation expectations – including, for example, the concept of self-driving cars.

Top-5 most-innovative brands were:
  1. Amazon
  2. Apple
  3. Google
  4. Netflix
  5. Samsung
For the remaining 15 tech innovators – six of which were new to the top-20, some very surprising – click here. Each new brand that enters our list stands for something that advances the category in which they compete, responds to consumer expectations, and provides a lot of consumer-to-business crossover.

Three brands fell off this year’s top 20: Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Line, and are proof of this year’s bottom line: Consumers have come to see innovation and change as an expectation within virtually every category and want it now!

And, it’s the wise brand that remembers it’s not about having ideas any more.

It’s about making ideas happen!



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, August 06, 2018

“Fake TV News” Engenders More Trust Than The President

Drawing from our Brand Keys 2018 Customer Loyalty and Engagement Index, (www.brandkeys.com) we examined 150 categories and 1,287 brands to determine how much the single value of “trust” contributed to brand engagement and market success.

The category, “Media,” was #1 in terms of “trust” contributing most (34%) to consumer i.e., viewer/reader/visitor engagement. For broadcast and cable news – independent of other media formats and platforms ­– “Trust” was slightly higher, contributing 39% to network brand engagement.

The remaining 61% was accounted for via attributes and values like quality of hosts, levels of commentary and insight, and credible and engaging guests.

4,012 viewers rated broadcast and cable brands they watched regularly (3+ times a week) via our Emotional Engagement Analysis to determine how much – that one value in particular – trust – was engendered by the brands, with the following results. 5% indicates a significant difference at the 95% confidence level:


As President Trump has assailed news (of all varieties) as “Fake News,” and more recently, “the enemy of the people,” Brand Keys was interested to see how much “trust” viewers actually had in the President, versus the TV brands.

Mr. Trump was rated an overall 29%, less than a third of that attributed to the BBC, and half that of Sinclair. By political affiliation, Democrats rated Mr. Trump 14%, Independents 22%, and Republicans 35%. 18% of the sample had “No Opinion.”

NOW READ ALL ABOUT IT! Our next wave of the Brand Keys Media Trust Tracker will report on “Newspapers.”



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, July 30, 2018

A Postmortem of the Ivanka Brand

Ivanka Trump announced the death of her brand last week.

It was famous (“Thanks, Dad!”), but it wasn’t desired.

It was famous, but it wasn’t very big.

It was famous, yet it only made a tiny flicker in the constellation of much larger, more desired, fashion-brand stars.

Listen to what we had to say to Reuters TV.

Ms. Trump forgot that being famous wasn’t enough. A real brand has to stand for something to consumers – besides being pretty and available.

To exacerbate things, Ivanka, who described her “life’s mission” as “seeking to improve the lives of working women,” wrote a book, “Women Who Work” – how women could achieve personal satisfaction and professional success. Just like Ivanka and her brand. The book ended up being an ill-timed and ill-conceived branding exercise. According to one critic, “It was not really offensive so much as witless!” Another critic thought, “Reading it is like eating scented cotton balls!”

If the book said nothing, Ivanka said nothing about anything related to being First Daughter or Presidential Advisor. Her comments regarding, well, everything was to say, well, nothing. “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. . . Where I disagree with my father, he knows it.” That silence, the lack of standing up for anything, eventually leeched into the brand.

To further aggravate things, she was not only speechless, she was tone deaf.

While 2,000 immigrant minors were separated from families she shared photos with her children, one captioned “on a date night with my daughter.”

She was unable to comment about the White House’s 2nd annual "Made in America" celebration. Ivanka-branded clothes and shoes (along with most Trump-branded products) come from pretty much anyplace that isn’t the USA.

And sure, some of the retailers who dropped her line may have been politically-motivated, but businesses don’t make money-making political decisions, they make money-making business decisions, and consumer purchase attitudes toward the Ivanka brand are significantly down YOY, so retailers weren’t making money for the stores. So the brand got dumped, just like lots of brands. This one was just more famous.

Brands should be more interested in meaning something, saying something, standing for something, than just being famous.

Because the bottom line is, when brands don’t speak to consumers, consumers speak to each other then speak for the brand.

Usually with their wallets!


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, July 24, 2018

What do you use to fix a broken pizza brand?


Usually, tomato paste.

Unfortunately, better claims notwithstanding, that’s not going to work for Papa John’s founder.

Our 2018 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index pizza rankings look like this:
  1. Domino’s
  2. Papa Murphy’s
  3. Pizza Hut
  4. Little Caesar’s
  5. Papa John’s
  6. Chuck E. Cheese 
How did the brand sink from its perennial #2 spot to #5? First there was the NFL blame-game debacle, when founder, John Schnatter, blamed disappointing sales on players kneeling during the national anthem. 1st Quarter ’18 sales fell 5.3%!

Then this week, Forbes reported Schnatter used the N-word during a conference call. University of Louisville removed his name from its football stadium and Center for Free Enterprise. Major League Baseball indefinitely suspended a promotion that offered fans discounts at the pizza chain after grand slams. The company is pulling his image from all marketing efforts.

Mr. Schnatter apologized and resigned as chairman, although as of the writing of this note has been making noises that he shouldn’t have had to. So not a good week for the founder. But the good news is there is hope for the brand.

There’s a difference between being “founder” and “brand.” Dave Thomas was the founder and successful spokesperson of Wendy’s, but not the brand. Col. Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and oft-imitated spokesperson, but not the brand. Richard Branson was founder and spokesman for Virgin, but was never, ever mistaken for the brand.

There’s a big difference between being “founder” and being “brand,” and a brand can be saved if managed properly. That’s not always true for a founder no matter how many apologies or denials they issue.

Because, particularly in this category, when customers emotionally engage with a brand, they also give up a pizza their hearts.


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, July 16, 2018

When Category Values Shift, Hope Is Not A Strategy!

Our 23rd annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index identified new consumer values that are creating unprecedented shifts in how consumers view categories, compare brands, and buy.

And buy again.

If you think this is an aberration or an eccentric deviation from the norm or a ‘blip’ on the radar, you’d better think again.

The analysis included 761 brands, evaluated by 50,527 consumers, 18-65 balanced for gender and political affiliation.

Shifts in brand values have resulted in category leadership changes and same-store sales and Quarterly profits in 60% of the B2C and B2B categories tracked.

Want to know how it might affect your brand? Read our Marketing Politics Weekly Op-Ed, “RisingImportance of Brand Values.”

Because when category values shift, hope is not a strategy!


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, July 09, 2018

You’re Not a “Classic” Brand Just Because They Can Hum Your Theme Song!


Remember this?

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid
There's a million toys at Toys R us that I can play with. . .
From bikes to trains to video games
It's the biggest toy store there is. . .
I don't wanna grow up, cause if I did
I couldn't be a Toys R Us kid!

Well, while you were celebrating the 4th of July holiday, customers apparently grew up and Toys “R” Us abandoned any hope of survival following an absolutely dismal 2017 holiday season. They shut the doors at all 700 U.S. stores,

The brand was sold, re-purchased by its founder, and sold two more times, finally ending up at private equity firms Bain Capital, KKR, and Vornado Realty. In light of industry trends, shifting platform preferences, and customer disengagement, they gave up all hope of saving the brand, “classic” or not. The overseas business, sister brand, Babies “R” Us, and mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, are due to be axed too.

Social media lit up at the announcement of the demise of the brand, with folks swearing that they would always be Toys “R” Us kids.

But here’s the thing about “classic” brands. You need more than a catchy theme song, a mascot, or even real real estate. And you need a lot more than just a lot of tweets on social media.

You need real brand loyalty and customer engagement and the sales that always come with them.

And something more predictive of your brand’s future than promises made on social media.    


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 25, 2018

Get It Right and Increase Brand Loyalty By 40%

Sometimes a new product introduction can help revive a brand where loyalty’s eroded. In fact, more-targeted, new product launches can increase loyalty upwards of 40%, being particularly effective in the fast and fast-casual food categories.

But you’ve got to get it right.

Chipotle got it right for 22 years, going from burrito stand to billion-dollar brand à la fresh ingredients and customization. Customers were loyal. So loyal, in fact, they were willing to pay more!

But seven outbreaks of E. coli bacterium and salmonella damaged Chipotle’s brand, customer loyalty, same-store sales, and profits.  They went from #1 to #20 on our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI)http://brandkeys.com/portfolio/customer-loyalty-engagement-index.

So, beyond not poisoning your customers, new product introductions can be a highly effective way to re-brand a brand. If you get it right.

Which Chipotle didn’t.

Their nationwide, new product rollout of queso not only received a lukewarm reception and reviews, it was so spectacularly ineffective. Shares dipped 14%. ¡Ay Caramba!

OK, so now Chipotle is planning a new, new product introduction: Quesadillas, pretty much just a Mexican version of grilled cheese.

Hard to mess up grilled cheese, right? They already offer a children’s cheese quesadilla, but an adult version will involve meats and salsa and cheese, and toppings. And it requires a different grill.  So a lot they could get wrong.

Chipotle moved up nine spots in our 2018 mid-year CLEI metrics to #11. Shares have moved up, too, loyalty being a leading-indicator of positive consumer behavior and all, although some of the 10% increase was likely due to April price hikes.

Still, new products can help. So the critical question is, will this new quesadilla introduction help heal Chipotle’s battered brand?

If they get it right this time.


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.