Consumers' Favorite Innovators? Taylor Swift, Smucker's And Ozempic

Innovation always lies in the eyes of the beholder, and Brand Keys’ 21stMost Innovative Brands survey detects some significant shifts, with consumers finding consumer-packaged goods more exciting than tech. And increasingly, notes Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president, they’ve begun to see entertainment as innovation.

That explains why pop’s Taylor Swift and Mattel made it to this year’s list. It’s also clear that what consumers find delightful one year turns into conventional predictability the next.

Brands once deemed innovative turned into yesterday’s news, with companies like Dyson, Nike, Peloton, Wayfair, Airbnb, GM, Adobe, and Zip Car all failing to make the list this year.

Yet such CPG brands as Sephora, E.L.F., Dove, Farmer’s Dog, Smucker’s, Red Bull and Truff, the trendy hot sauce, made the cut.



Brand Keys, a loyalty and engagement research company based in New York, based the list on a sample of 7,800 consumers aged 16 to 65. They identified the top 50 innovator-brands, which fell into eight industry sectors: CPG, which had the most innovative brands, followed by technology, retail and entertainment. The remaining four categories -- healthcare, restaurants, social networking and transportation – all had 10% or fewer mentions.

And 30% of the Top 50 brands are brand-new to the list, now in its 21st year.

“Great brands used to be built on products. Now they’re built on innovation,” writes Passikoff in the report. “Everything is driven by consumer expectations related to product, process, and culture,” he says. “Brands need to keep in mind, more and more often, consumers expect a lot more!”

Other newcomers include Hoka, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany’s in retail; Ozempic and Truvani in healthcare, and Taco Bell and Jersey Mike’s Subs in restaurants.

Most innovative social networking brands include WeChat, TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Tech brands that are seen as innovative include OpenAI, Apple, Google, Microsoft, LG,, Samsung, and Oracle.

“Earnings calls, patents, even profits are important to Wall Street but not so much on Main Street,” Passikoff adds. “While consumers can’t necessarily articulate what form innovation should take, they know what it feels like. Brands that address those feelings via invention and re-invention will always have an advantage over the competition.”

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