In its latest customer loyalty index [pdf], Brand Keys indicates that consumers have never had higher emotional expectations from brands – but that brands’ ability to meet those expectations hasn’t grown as quickly. Using a proprietary survey-based research method to see how well brands meet or exceed expectations consumers hold, the study assigns an emotional engagement strength score to 555 brands across 64 categories, identifying the leader in each.
The following is a selection of category leaders. The percentage defines how close the brand is to an ideal score in its category.
- Airline: JetBlue (81%);
- Automotive: Ford/Hyundai (93%);
- Computer (laptops): Apple (95%);
- E-Readers: Kindle (96%);
- Instant Messaging Applications: WhatsApp (90%);
- Major League Sports: National Football League (94%);
- Online Music: Pandora (90%);
- Online Payment Services: PayPal (90%);
- Online Retailers: Amazon (93%);
- Online Video Streaming: Netflix/Amazon (88%);
- Search Engine: Google (85%);
- Smartphones: Apple (81%);
- Social Networking Sites: Facebook/Twitter (77%);
- Tablets: Amazon/Apple (90%);
- Wireless Phone Service: AT&T (80%).
A couple of things that stand out to those who follow these categories: Apple claims the smartphone title from Samsung (last year’s winner); and while Facebook and Twitter are tied for the lead, their low scores suggest that social networking sites are having a difficult time meeting expectations.
That’s in part because the social networking category has the second-highest overall consumer expectations, according to the study, with consumers reserving their highest expectations in this category for multi-functional connectivity.
Other categories making the top 10 (along with the category drivers where consumers hold their highest expectations) include
- #1: Instant messaging apps (Comprehensive, Sophisticated, Most Up-To-Date Features);
- #3: Smartphones (Apps/Camera/AV/Multimedia Technology) and Tablets (Brand Value & Support);
- #5: Online Video Streaming;
- #9: Online Retailers (;Trust and Security); and
- #10: Retail Apparel Stores (Brand Buzz).
About the Data: Brand Keys describes its methodology as follows:
“For the Brand Keys 2014 survey, 32,000 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age drawn from the nine US Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are customers (top-20%). Seventy percent (70%) were interviewed by phone, twenty-five percent (25%) via face-to-face interviews (to include cell phone-only households), and 5% participated online.
Assessments are based on an independently-validated research technique that fuses rational and emotional aspects of the categories to identify the behavioral drivers for each category- specific Ideal, and identifies the attributes, benefits, and values that form the components of each driver. The Ideal describes a precise path-to-purchase, describing how the consumer will view the category, how they will compare brands and, ultimately how they will engage with the brand, buy, and remain loyal. Then the assessments measure how well brands meet expectations consumers hold for each driver that makes up the Ideal for a specific category.
The proprietary research technique combines psychological inquiry with higher-order statistical analyses to deliver a verified test/re-test reliability of 0.93, with results generalizable at the 95% confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries around the world.”