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Another day, another brand ranking. Or so it seems. But here’s another chance for some of the Big 4 to assert their dominance once again, courtesy of Prophet’s latest Brand Relevance Index, which measures brands across 4 characteristics generally shared by the most relevant: customer obsession; ruthless pragmatism; distinctive inspiration; and pervasive innovation.

Those shared traits add up to make brands that consumers can’t live without, per the report, which surveyed 50,000 customers about 750 brands (close to 13,500 and 275, respectively, in the US). While actual sales don’t figure as a metric used to determine how indispensable brands are consumers, brands were chosen for analysis according to their contribution to US household spending. Within each industry, companies with outsized growth, as well as smaller ones driving change, were included.

The 5 Most Relevant Brands

So who’s the most relevant in the US? This year it’s Apple at the top – for the second year running. Apple achieved its highest score in the “Ruthlessly Pragmatic” characteristic, which measures the brands that people depend on.

While its highest score was for that characteristic, Apple also led all brands for customer obsession (“brands we can’t imagine living without”) and for pervasive innovation (“brands that consistently innovate”).

Apple also emerged as the most relevant brand in the UK and Germany, coming in 5th in China.

Within the US, Google was the second-most relevant brand, per Prophet’s index. It achieved the highest score of all brands for ruthless pragmatism. Google also ranked second in the UK and third in Germany, but did not place in the top 10 in China.

Following Google in the US rankings were Amazon and Netflix, each garnering their top index scores for being brands on which people depend. Neither placed in the top 10 in China, while Amazon was second in Germany.

Rounding out the top 5 in the US was Pinterest. Unlike most of the top brands, Pinterest’s high score was in the “Distinctively Inspired” category, which measures the brands that inspire people by making emotional connections and earning trust. Pinterest led all brands in its score on this particular category. In fact, Pinterest thrived while other social brands struggled: Facebook and Instagram didn’t even crack the top 50 in the US.

Differences Among Demographic Groups

Not everyone is in agreement about those top 5, however. Men placed Apple and Amazon as their top 2, in that order – but then clearly placed an emphasis on entertainment, with Playstation, Netflix and YouTube rounding out their top 5.

For women, Google topped the list, followed by Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Netflix.

Youth consider Netflix to be a “must-keep” TV brand – and apparently also a relevant one. Netflix led all brands in the Relevance Index among Millennials, followed by Google, Amazon, Apple and Spotify. For non-Millennials, Apple and Android led, ahead of Amazon, Pinterest and Google.

Industry Leaders

Below, the top-ranking brand from select industries (more details in the chart above):

  • Airlines: Southwest (as it was last year);
  • Automotive: Toyota;
  • Consumer Electronics: Sony;
  • Grocery and Drug Stores: Trader Joe’s;
  • Hospitality: Marriott (as it was last year);
  • Media: Netflix;
  • Restaurants: Starbucks;
  • Retail: Amazon;
  • Social Media & Internet Services: Google; and
  • Telecommunications: Verizon.

Finally, sharing economy mainstays Uber (+118 spots to #93) and Airbnb (+113 spots to #155) enjoyed the biggest jumps of the top 250 brands. Beauty brand L’Oréal (-72 spots to #99) had the most precipitous fall, with Sephora also experiencing a large decline (-61 spots to #74).

The full report, including further details about methodology and the top brands, can be accessed here.

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