The importance of technology — and the ease in which much of it can be customized — is creeping into consumers' perceptions of their loyalty and engagement with brands.
According to Brand Keys’ 19th annual Loyalty Leaders List, 85% of the top 20 brands (and nine of the top 10) involve some form of digital technology or social networking. Among them: Netflix (No. 1); Amazon's tablets (No. 2), online retail (No. 8), video-streaming service (No. 10), Kindle e-readers (No. 15) and Amazon-owned Zappos online retail site (No. 12); Apple smartphones (No. 3), tablets (No. 4) and iTunes video streaming (No. 13); Facebook (No. 5) and its What’s App subsidiary (No. 9); Google (No. 6) and Google-owned YouTube (No. 7); Samsung tablets (No. 11); LinkedIn social network (No. 16); PayPal (No. 18) and Twitter (No. 20).
Indeed, the only brands to make the Top 20 that do not have some primary affiliation with digital technology or commerce were Grey Goose vodka (No. 14) and Dunkin’ Donuts (No. 17) and Hyundai (No. 20).
“It’s reflects the real world about how consumers are behaving toward brands and what’s important for them,” Brand Keys founder and president Robert Passikoff, tells Marketing Daily. “Digital technology and digital outreach and anything that facilitates that has become more differentiating to people than what brand of cereal they buy.”
The Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders analysis includes assessments from more than 40,000 adult consumers, using phone (75%), face-to-face (20%) and online surveys covering 753 brands in 68 categories during September.
The latest list is a reflection of not only how important digital technology and social media have become for consumers, but also how those categories’ essential nature has become the benchmark against which other brands are evaluated, Passikoff says.
“Consumers today are more engaged on an emotional and rational level with personal outreach and personal entertainment," Passikoff says. “In everything we looked at, almost half the list are involved with things that have that personal connection.”
Passikoff notes, in fact, that many of the brands that have dropped out of the Top 100 list come from categories were such personal connection isn’t as evident. Since 2010, categories such as Personal Care, Breakfast Cereal Pet Foods and Catalog brands have dropped out of the Top 100 Loyalty Leaders entirely, and Alcoholic Beverages brands appearing in the list have decreased by 40%. The connection among them all is difficulty engaging with consumers, Passikoff says.
“Those categories need to find ways to better engage customers,” he says, “What they need to be able to do is innovate on what you’re delivering or connect on an emotional level.”
And to do that, they need to get a handle on consumer expectations, and how they’ve changed in the new digital and technological world, Passikoff says. “You need to get a better fix on what people expect,” he says. “You need to figure out how you are going to meet those expectations, and you need to figure out where consumers are.”