JetBlue Regains Top Spot In Brand Keys Index

Editor's note: This week, Marketing Daily brought you exclusive coverage of the Brand Keys 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI). This last installment provides highlights from the travel, alcoholic beverages and financial services categories.

JetBlue is back on top of the airline category in the 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, displacing Air Canada, which fell to second.

Delta came in third, followed by United, WestJet, Southwest and American.

“The category is driven by airlines that help ease the effort of travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure,” says Brand Keys CEO Robert Passikoff. “It just goes to show how snacks and an apparent concern for the traveler go a long way.”



In the hotel category, Wyndham Microtel was the top finisher in the economy segment, followed by Red Roof Inn, Howard Johnson Express, Super 8, America’s Best Value Inn, Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Motel 6 and Travelodge. Red Roof and Howard Johnson were both up this year, while Motel 6 fell in the rankings.

Among mid-scale brands, Hampton Inn finished first followed by Fairfield Inn, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Wingate, Clarion, Ramada and Howard Johnson. Notably, the top three brands were all at the lower end of last year’s list and moved up because they devoted efforts to developing their brand reputations, Passikoff says.

“Hampton Inn did it by not forgetting to leverage a real sense of value, as well,” he says

For upscale brands, Omni finished first followed by Embassy Suites/Marriott, Renaissance, Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton, Radisson, Wyndham and Westin/ Doubletree. Omni is new to the list this year. Hyatt and Hilton moved down from the first and second slots last year.

Finally, Ritz-Carlton was the top luxury brand followed by InterContinental, Loews, Four Seasons, Fairmont and W Hotels. Ritz moved up from the fifth slot last year and InterContinental is up from No. 4.

“There’s a real continuum of engagement values that build on one another when it comes to hotels,” Passikoff tells Marketing Daily. “Economy hotels are all about having a reputation for value. Mid-scale is about value, too, but brand reputation matters as well. For upscale hotels, it’s all about brand reputation, and luxury is about the brand reputation plus a sense of five-star treatment. All the brands that ended up number one in their segment better met the expectations consumer held for those engagement/loyalty-driving values.”

Alcohol Segment Includes New Categories

In the light beer category, Sam Adams light finished first followed by Bud light, Coors light, Natural light, Miller Lite, Busch light, Amstel light and Michelob light. Natural Light and Coors Light traded positions on this year’s list.

For regular beer, Sam Adams finished first again, followed by Coors, Corona/Dos Equis, Busch/Stella Artois, Michelob, Miller, Heineken and Budweiser. Dos Equis and Stella are new to this year’s list, while Michelob was down from the no. 2 spot last year.

For tequila, Jose Cuervo took the top spot followed by Jon Julio/Patron, Sauza, 1800 Juarez, Herradora and Cazadores. This is a returning category, last tracked in 2012.

In the whiskey category -- which is new -- Jack Daniels finished first followed by Crown Royal, Jameson/Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker Black, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, Fireball and Seagram’s 7 Crown/Southern Comfort.

In vodka, Svedka was the top brand followed by Grey Goose, Absolut, Smirnoff/Tito’s, Skyy/Stolichnaya, Ketel One/Ciroc, Popov/Pinnacle and Finlandia. Svedka moved up from No. 4 to replace Grey Goose.

Engagement values that drive engagement differ from category to category in the alcohol segment, Passikoff says.

Light Beer is entirely related to a craft-like image, which is why Natural Light moved up. Regular Beer is social-occasion based: Is it right for what I’m doing right now? Does it fit? Two new brands appeared on the list: Dos Equis and Stella. Michelob moved from No. 2 to No. 8.

“It appears that nothing is special about Michelob, which is interesting since that used to be its entire raison d’être,” Passikoff says

Whiskey has become more popular and showed the biggest category growth over the past couple of years, which is why it was added to the CLEI.

“That’s the same reason we brought back tequila, which has been off the CLEI for two years now,” Passikoff says “Brand Image and drinker self image drive the category and brand engagement and loyalty, which is why top-shelf brands show up on top.”

Vodka has been losing its appeal. Millennials are moving to whiskies, but the sense of brand image and versatility still drive the category, he says.

“That’s why newer brands, like Svedka, showed up on top this year,” Passikoff says. “But in this category novelty is fleeting (Tito’s is now tied for No. 4). That said, despite the category weakening, Grey Goose, Absolut, and Smirnoff are the perennial favorites, driven by sense of smoothness, versatility, and value respectively.”

Financial Services Categories Include Shifts

Wells Fargo finished at the top of the bank category followed by JP Morgan Chase/Citi, Bank of America,  Bank of New York, PNC, Capital One/TD Bank and HSBC. Capital One, TD Bank and HSBC are all new to list this year. Wells Fargo was 4th last year.

For credit cards, Discover finished first followed by American Express, Capital One, Chase, Visa, MasterCard, Citibank, Bank of America and Barclaycard. Amex was tied with Discover last year but moved to No. 2

In the car insurance segment, Progressive/Geico are tied for first followed by USAA/Esurance, Nationwide, Allstate/State Farm and Liberty Mutual. USAA moved down one spot and Geico moved up three.

For home insurance, MetLife was number one followed by Hartford, Allstate, Nationwide/State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Farmers and Travelers/Chubb/American Family Mutual. MetLife moved up four spots -- displacing Nationwide, which was number one last year. Chubb and American Family Mutual all new to this category this year.

For life insurance, New York Life was on top followed by Nationwide, Northwestern Mutual/MetLife, State Farm, Allstate, Prudential and John Hancock/Farmers.

“Values that drive the engagement and loyalty in the following categories explain precisely why the brands that ended up No. 1 were seen as best meeting consumer expectations for their respective categories,” Passikoff says.

For banks, top finishers offered a trusted sense of customer service, since they all offer essentially the same services, he says. With credit cards, it’s about  empowered benefits and rewards.

“You have to move beyond airline points,” Passikoff says. “Discover discovered how to do that and have been on top for 20 years now."

In the car insurance category, top brands have a reputation for customers being covered and getting coverage for value.

“That’s why Progressive and Geico have moved into the No. 1 spot. It’s also why Essurance move up from the bottom of the list to tie for No. 2,” he says.

For the 2016 CLEI, Brand Keys surveyed 42,792 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 65, drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions. Most (70%) were surveyed by phone; 25% face-to-face (to identify/include cellphone-only households); and 5% online. The proprietary research technique/statistical analyses have a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, which provides assessments generalizable at a 95% confidence level.

Next story loading loading..