Down-to-earth brands such as Puffs, Chex, and Bounty have outperformed digital giants such as Apple and Google, according to Landor’s 2014 Breakaway Brand Study.
At the top is Samsung, a leader in mobile as well as big-box items such as refrigerators and washers.
The annual study is the only report ranking U.S. brands on their ability to successfully sustain rising brand strength over a three-year period. The 10 brands selected show the greatest gains in relevance and differentiation, coupled with strong business performance, between 2010 and 2013. The study analyzes data from Young & Rubicam Group’s proprietary BrandAsset Valuator (BAV), the world’s largest database of consumer brand perception.
There is a resurgence of consumer appreciation for more tangible experiences, says Mich Bergesen, global director of financial services at Landor, the global brand strategy and design firm.
“While tech giants are still very strong, a more down-to-earth crop of brands has built the greatest brand momentum in the past few years,” Bergesen says in a release. “Another common characteristic among our leading brands is being agile, meaning brands that are shaped by an ongoing conversation with consumers and employees, and more focused on relevance than consistency.”
Samsung -- the only tech-related brand to make it into the top 10 -- provides consumers with an innovative shopping environment, the Samsung Experience Shop. The company has been successful in leveraging its brand across many categories: appliances, TVs, and mobile and smartphones.
In second place is Chex, which in anticipation of the gluten-free craze, launched a seven-product extension to capture the new segment, experiencing a 10% sales growth. An entirely different set of shoppers is reached with the snack food Chex Mix, whose advertising encourages consumers to “Pick Your Mix” from the line’s 21 varieties.
Puffs took on Kleenex by focusing on the product’s functional benefits, especially for women. Emphasizing that the product’s softness empowers a woman to put her best face forward, even when she has a cold, connected the brand more meaningfully with customers.
In fourth place is Oakley, which is moving away from lifestyle products and back to athletic gear, leading to a 50% increase in differentiation. In 2010, only 10 percent of consumers considered Oakley innovative, but after its performance-centric campaigns, that number has lifted to 90 percent.
MAC, the bold, edgy cosmetics brand, finished fifth. The brand saw its relevance skyrocket by creating an environment where consumers can write their own stories. This increase in relevance led to the rise of MAC’s overall brand strength.
Other top 10 finishers include Keurig, Costo’s Kirkland Signature, Lea & Perrins, Bounty and Under Armour.
In addition to the 10 Breakaway Brands, Landor chose five brands for its 2014 Watch List: Gallo, Super Bowl, Xbox Live, Kleenex, and Amazon.com. The Watch List brands have shown exceptional brand strength in past years, but face some uncertainty in the long term.
Amazon.com has made the Breakaway Brands list since 2010, but this year its failure to reliably produce net income prompted its move to the Watch List. The question is: Will investors tire of its inconsistent profitability? And, although Xbox Live’s functionality increased, enabling it to broaden its appeal to a wider audience, there are questions about the brand’s ability to create a personality that resonates with consumers.