The top US brands and the loyalty challenge

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on February 25, 2008

The top US brands and the loyalty challenge

Three marketing trends that have been building for the past decade are beginning to affect consumers and brand loyalty, according to loyalty consultancy Brand Keys, which has now published its '2008 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index'.

The first of these three factors is what Brand Keys calls "the bionic consumer", with more connectivity and control over personal communications than ever before. The second potentially disruptive phenomena facing brand marketers is a media environment that has become more complex than any marketer could have imagined even ten years ago. And the third, of course, is a marketplace that is littered with undifferentiated brands.

Major changes ahead For the first time in eleven years, all but 2 out of the 57 categories tracked in the annual Brand Keys survey have shown changes in the main drivers (the consumer motivators) of loyalty and brand engagement.

According to Brand Keys' president, Robert Passikoff, the fusion of consumer empowerment, media complexity, and generic branding may be set to cause a tsunami-like change in almost every product and service category. The fact that consumers have ever greater control over the messages that reach and engage them may result in a rapid shift in the factors that define how consumers view categories, compare brands, and make purchase decisions.

Top US brands by category In the 2008 survey, there were more 'ties' for first place in terms of loyalty rankings than ever before, which is possibly a sign of not only category standardisation but also of commoditisation and a lack of differentiation. Product and service brands that consumers ranked first (as "meeting and exceeding their expectations") for each category were:

  • Airlines: JetBlue and Southwest;
  • Allergy Medicine (OTC): Benadryl and Tylenol;
  • Allergy Medicine (Rx): Clarinex and Zyrtec;
  • Athletic Footwear: Air Jordan and New Balance;
  • Automotive: Toyota;
  • Banks: Wachovia and Washington Mutual;
  • Beer (Light): Coors Light;
  • Beer (regular): Sam Adams;
  • Bottled Water: Aquafina and Fiji;
  • Car Insurance: Geico;
  • Car Rental (airport Locations): Hertz;
  • Car Rental (other Locations): Avis;
  • Casual Dining: Olive Garden;
  • Cell Phones: Samsung;
  • Clothing Catalogues: L.L.Bean;
  • Coffee: Dunkin' Donuts;
  • Computers: Apple;
  • Cosmetics (Luxury): Estee Lauder;
  • Cosmetics (Mass merchandiser): Maybelline;
  • Credit Cards: Discover Card;
  • Diapers: Playskool and Wal-Mart White Cloud;
  • DVD Players: Samsung;
  • Energy Provider: PSE&G;
  • Evening News Show: ABC;
  • Gasoline: BP and Sunoco;
  • HDTV (LCD): Samsung;
  • HDTV (Plasma): Panasonic and Pioneer;
  • Hotels (Luxury): W Hotels;
  • Hotels (Upscale): Embassy Suites and Hyatt;
  • Hotels (Midscale): Comfort Inn;
  • Hotels (Economy): Day's Inn;
  • Insurance Company: NY Life;
  • Laundry Detergent: Tide;
  • Long Distance Provider: AT&T and Verizon;
  • Major League Sports: National Football League;
  • Morning News Shows: Good Morning America (ABC) and The Today Show (NBC);
  • Mutual Funds: T. Rowe Price;
  • MFP Office Copier: Konica Minolta;
  • Online Books & Music: Amazon.com;
  • Online Brokerage: Scottrade.com;
  • Online Travel Sites: Expedia.com and Orbitz.com;
  • OTC Pain Reliever: Tylenol;
  • Parcel Delivery: UPS;
  • Pizza: Domino's and Papa John's;
  • Quick-Serve Restaurants: McDonald's and Subway;
  • Retail Stores (Apparel): Victoria's Secret;
  • Retail Stores (Discount): Wal-Mart;
  • Retail Stores (Department): Macy's;
  • Retail Stores (Electronics): Best Buy;
  • Retail Stores (Office Supply): Staples;
  • Retail Stores (Home Improvement): Lowe's and True Value;
  • Satellite Radio: XM;
  • Search Engines: Google;
  • Soft Drinks (Diet): Diet Pepsi;
  • Soft Dinks (Regular): Pepsi;
  • Toothpaste: Crest;
  • Wireless Phone Service: AT&T and Verizon.

Passikoff concluded: "At a time when most brands are struggling to differentiate from their competition and engage their customers in order to remain profitable, these rankings serve as both an opportunity and warning. It will be the brands that answer this warning with a truly consumer-centric view of their category, based on predictive loyalty metrics, that stand to gain the most."

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