Amazon.com is the top-performing brand in the U.S. based on two key branding criteria -- trust and recommendations, according to a new study by market research firm Millward Brown. Trailing closely behind Amazon were FedEx, Downey, Huggies and Tide. The only other Internet-only brand in the top 10 was WebMD, at No. 8.
In its study titled, "Beyond Trust: Engaging Consumers in the Post-Recession World," Millward Brown used a new metric dubbed "TrustR" to determine the top-performing brands. It's calculated by looking at consumer responses to the questions "how trustworthy is this brand?" and "would you recommend this brand?"
The scores are indexed and combined to come up with a TrustR score, with the average being 100. Scores for the top 10 ranged from 123 for Amazon to 118 for UPS.
The study suggests that consumers are especially reluctant to spend money on brands they don't trust in a tough economy. "In fact, we found that the number one "TrustR" brand in each of the 22 countries we researched was nearly seven times more likely to be purchased and consumers were 10 times more likely to have formed a strong bond with these brands," said Millward Brown's Eileen Campbell, in a statement.
Nigel Hollis, EVP and chief global analyst for the firm, also noted that Amazon achieved the top ranking based on providing top-notch service as well as in providing its own product recommendations to users. "This combination has made Amazon the gold standard of trust and recommendation in the U.S.," he said.
Amazon also came out on top of a year-end ForeSee poll gauging customer satisfaction among online retailers, and often ranks high on lists of the most consumer-friendly Web brands. Amazon also closed 2009 with another strong quarter, with profit up 71% to $384 million and sales up 42% to $9.5 billion. The company's share of online retail stores also increased to a record 13.3% in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago.