Air Canada Soars To Top Of Airline Category

Editor's note: This week, Marketing Daily brings you exclusive coverage of the Brand Keys 2015 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI). Each day, expect a report on key product/services categories from among the 64 surveyed for this year’s study, including automotive, electronics, retail, technology and alcoholic beverages (beer and vodka). This fifth installment provides highlights from the transportation, financial services, beer and pet categories.

Air Canada is ranked number one in the airline category for the first time in the 18th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), followed by JetBlue and WestJet.

That’s a switch from last year’s top finishers: US Airways, Southwest and JetBlue.



Other Transportation favorites are as follows:

Car Rental

  1. Avis
  2. Enterprise
  3. Hertz

Hotels (Economy)

  1. Wyndham Microtel
  2. America’s Best Value Inn
  3. Days Inn

Hotel (Midscale)

  1. Best Western
  2. Fairfield Inn
  3. Clarion

Hotel (Upscale)

  1. Hyatt
  2. Hilton
  3. Embassy Suites

Hotel (Luxury)

  1. Fairmont Hotels
  2. Four Seasons
  3. W Hotels

Online Travel Site

  1. Travelocity
  2. Cheap Tickets
  3. Trip Advisor

App-Based Rideshare

  1. Uber
  2. Lyft
  3. Side-Car

Economy hotels are primarily driven by brand reputation and price/value, says Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc.

“Midscale hotels are driven by amenities,” he adds. “Upscale hotels engagement is driven by ‘highly trained staff’ and ‘amenities especially for me. Luxury hotel engagement is 5-star treatment along with ‘service I deserve.’”

Brand Keys does not provide a list of brands in each category, the list is composed by the consumers, who self-classify for the category and then tell us the brands they use.

“The list of hotels has grown by 33% this year to nine new brands,” he says. “Growth of the list is a good indication that consumers are looking for additional options in the category and aren’t fully emotionally engaged with what they’ve used so far.” 

All of the categories have become far more personal and emotional, Passikoff says.

“Expectations move at the speed of the consumer and all brands have difficulty keeping up,” he says. “There were no massive shifts in the order of the engagement drivers in any category, but in addition to higher expectations, the values that make them up and that have become very important for brands to create emotional engagement, have changed dramatically.”



  1. JPMorgan Chase
  2. Citi
  3. ATB Financial (Canada)

Car Insurance

  1. USAA
  2. Progressive
  3. Allstate

Credit Cards

  1. Discover / American Express (tie)
  2. Capital One
  3. Visa

Life Insurance

  1. Allstate
  2. NY Life
  3. State Farm

Home Insurance

  1. Nationwide
  2. The Hartford
  3. USAA

Mutual Funds

  1. American Funds
  2. Franklin
  3. Vanguard

Online Brokerage

  2. Options Xpress
  3. Options House

For banks, “trust” was always part of the category, but it’s become much more important, as recent history has proven, Passikoff says.

“Consumers want more control and that control shows up in a massive desire for full-service digital interaction,” he says.

Mutual Funds are one of the categories where not surprisingly, “personal success” is one of the key emotional values that showed up this year along with a desire for personalized customer service.

“We always see our results correlating very high with consumer behavior and axiomatically, if consumers behave positively toward a brand it should show positive results,” he says. “We have a correlation of our ranking of fund success by engaged customers with general, overall fund success of 0.72, which is very high. And brands that better meet emotional expectation levels -- and in this category, personal success in particular -- rank highly with consumers.”


  1. Sam Adams
  2. Michelob
  3. Coors

Light Beer

  1. Sam Adams
  2. Bud Light
  3. Natural Light

In the beer category, image has always been important, but now drinkers want a craft-like brand image that fits with drinker's own self-image when it comes to light beers, Passikoff says.

“They are looking for, really, sociability and exclusive formulations, which is why Sam Adams has done so well,” he says. “Regular beers are more basic in their emotional engagement aspects. Folks may be entertained by the puppy and the Clydesdales, but the commercials don’t really touch on the important emotional aspect for the category, either in strategy or execution.”

Craft-like imagery has become the first-most important engagement driver, reflective of actual growth in the marketplace.

Pet Food: Cats

  1. Purina
  2. Science Diet
  3. Friskies

Pet Food: Dogs

  1. Science Diet
  2. Pedigree
  3. Purina One

Finally, in pet food, there have been big shifts from the basics to more involved and emotional values, Passikoff says.

“Sure, pet appeal is important -- they have to be seen to ‘enjoy’ it -- but from the owners’ point of view, they want something that makes them feel they are providing love and care,” he says. “They want high-quality ingredients that ‘provide versatile nutrition,’ so formulations have become more important than flavor.”

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