Harte Hanks on Tuesday unveiled its inaugural Most Motivating Brands Index, a list of brands ranked according to their ability to influence consumer behavior.
Google rated the highest on a number of drivers, including Creativity and Cultural Relevance. Amazon, the second-highest-rated brand on the Motivating Brands Index, came in as the most Reliable and scored high in areas such as Responsiveness and Relevance.
Apple had the highest Action total score, while Dove ranked highest on total Empathy.
“When you look at the two scores, Empathy and Action, Google and Apple rate high in both,” said Gretchen Ramsey, chief strategy officer at Harte Hanks. “When you start to look at just Empathy, Google drops to No. 4, below Dove, Amazon, and Samsung. In the Action category, Amazon drops and Apple takes the top spot.”
She said Google and Amazon are tracking well now because behavior and language are evolving.
When it comes to Epiphany, the study finds behavioral changes are not impulsive, but rather are driven by mindfulness. Some 63% who participated in the survey say they pay more attention to the places they go, 53% are increasingly mindful of their health and wellness, 50% say they are more mindful of everyday actions, and 49% pay more attention to whom they connect to.
The Most Motivating Brands Index is part of the Harte Hanks Behavioral Index, a global initiative to uncover emerging behavioral shifts that influence consumer behavior.
The list for the Motivating Brands Index was determined using a proprietary method that evaluates brands on a set of criteria, such as Empathy and Action — both ways to serve consumers. It is based on 500 million global social conversations with 7,000 people surveyed, 40,000 global stories and 2 million semantic artifacts.
Within Empathy, the index lists Authenticity, Purpose, Simplicity and Reliability, among other criteria. Within Action, the list includes Relative, Responsiveness, Innovation, and Creativity.
Apple scored a 78 in Empathy. The index begins to identify what companies are experiencing as they try to reinvent themselves.
The score shows that consumer behavior has changed so much that only 8% of consumers said they will go back to the way they once behaved.
However, behavior is not the only factor to see shifts. Language -- which will become more important as marketers think about messaging in ads -- continues to change as well. For example, people don’t protest, but are activists. They don’t observe, but rather find solutions. Prior to 2020, people were 4 times more likely to talk about rioters and protesters, but now they are 17 times more likely to talk about activists and supporters.
Uncertainty -- which comprises several emotions -- has become the dominant emotion since March 2020.
Worry -- with a score of 45.5% -- has become the biggest contributor, followed by watchful at 30% and insecure at 24.5%.
Gen Z feel fear, while Millennials, Gen X and Boomers feel uncertainty.
“We saw that brands trying solve COVID-oriented issues appeared high on the list,” Ramsey said. “Levis, No. 16, scored an 85 out of 100. The legacy of the brand had something to do with it.”