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Amazon has consolidated its position as the brand loyalty leader in the US, topping 2016’s leader Google for the second consecutive year. That’s according to the latest annual loyalty study [pdf] from Brand Keys, which ranked customer engagement and loyalty for 761 brands across 84 categories.

Rounding out the top 5 were:

  • Apple, up two spots to #3, for Smartphones;
  • Netflix, flat at #4, for Video Streaming; and
  • Amazon again, up a spot to #5, for Video Streaming.

These brands were among the ones most likely to meet consumer expectations for their respective categories.

Amazon was again impressive this year, as it appeared in the top 10 list three times: for its performance in the Online Retail (#1 overall), Video Streaming (#5 overall) and Tablet (#9 overall) categories.

Apple also made the top-10 list twice for its mobile devices, and came in 20th overall for its performance in the Computers category. It continues to face a challenge from Samsung, though: Samsung moved up another spot to the #6 ranking for loyalty to its smartphones, up from #7 last year and #14 in 2016.

Apple might not be too worried, though, if teens can be reliably seen as a leading indicator: almost one-third of teens talk about Apple-owned brands on a daily basis, and fully 84% say they’ll choose the iPhone as their next phone.

Google was another to appear in the top 20 a couple of times, as YouTube was second in the Social Networking category, putting it in the 13th spot overall though that’s down from #10 last year and #8 the year before). Surprisingly, Facebook led the Social Networking category for customer loyalty, ahead of YouTube and Instagram.

Brands are able to appear in Brand Keys’ loyalty leaders list more than once as they are measured against the loyalty “ideal” for each category in which they are present. This generates a percentage for each brand in each category, and the loyalty leader rankings are then formed by comparing the top percentages across all brands and categories.

Nine of the top 10 customer loyalty leaders this year are digital brands. Trade Joe’s, which leads the Natural Foods category, is the lone exception at #10, up from #13 last year (when each of the top 10 brands was a digital brand).

Digital tech, social networking, and “brands that facilitate digital and social interactions” comprised 35 of the top 100 loyalty leaders this year. Other categories well represented in the top 100 include Retail (+3 to 19 brands), Automotive/Auto Rental/Ride Share (12), Restaurants (9), Financial (8) and Cosmetics (8).

Brand Keys notes that non-digital brands are moving up the rankings, averaging an 11-position increase this year over last. And brands with the biggest loyalty leadership gains were largely not digital ones, led by T.J.Maxx (+38 spots to #35), 5 Guys Buyers & Fries (+36 spots to #64), Zara (+32 to #57), Lyft (+18 to #77) and JPMorgan Chase (+17 to #51).

It’s been a strong run of late for Lyft, which has improved its perception among women, and was one of the most improved brands in terms of overall buzz in 2017.

Meanwhile, the brand suffering the biggest decline in the loyalty rankings? That would be Airbnb, which plummeted 68 spots to #99, almost falling out of the top 100 entirely. Brand Keys attributes the fall to regulatory issues and local-resident protests.

The full top-100 list is available here [pdf].

About the Data: Brand Keys’ Loyalty Leaders analysis was conducted in September 2018 and includes assessments from 50,527 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age, from the nine US Census Regions, who self-selected the categories in which they are consumers and the brands for which they are customers. The 2018 Loyalty Leader assessments examined 84 categories and 761 brands.

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