Which Brands Are Best Meeting Customer Expectations This Year?

February 16, 2016

BrandKeys-Brand-Leaders-Customer-Loyalty-Engagement-Feb2016The key drivers of brand engagement are moving towards emotional values, with emotional engagement increasingly difficult for brands to achieve, reports Brand Keys in its latest annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Categories including automotive, online retail, online video and social networking are among the most emotionally-driven, per the report.

The 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) study uses a proprietary survey-based research method to assign each measured brand a percentage score indicating the degree to which it meets expectations against a consumer-generated category-specific ideal. This year’s study covered 72 categories and 635 brands, and relies upon a survey of 42,792 brand customers aged 18 to 65.

Certain categories appear to be more emotionally-driven than others. These include:

  • Automotive (#2), topped by Hyundai and Ford;
  • Instant Messages (#5), led by WhatsApp;
  • Online Retailers (#6), with Amazon in the lead;
  • Online Video (#7), topped by Netflix;
  • Smartphones (#8), with Apple in the lead; and
  • Social Networking (#9), led by Facebook.

It’s interesting to note that those same brands topped their respective categories in last year’s study also, indicating that for the majority of the most emotionally-driven categories, the same brands are keeping their footholds on loyalty. (It’s worth noting that last year’s study included respondents from Canada, whereas this year’s edition appears to have been limited to US respondents only.)

The following is a brief selection of category leaders. The percentage defines how close the brand is to an ideal score in its category, and as a result, the above-cited categories are included again to indicate the leading brands’ index scores.

  • Airline: JetBlue (87%), returning to the lead it surrendered last year;
  • Automotive: Ford / Hyundai (93%);
  • Computers: Apple (96%);
  • E-Readers: Kindle (97%);
  • Instant Messages: WhatsApp (91%);
  • Online Music: Pandora (90%);
  • Online Payment: PayPal (92%);
  • Online Retailer: Amazon (96%);
  • Online Video: Netflix (91%);
  • Retail Discount: Target (94%), overtaking last year’s leader, Walmart;
  • Search Engine: Google (90%);
  • Smartphone: Apple (87%);
  • Social Networking Sites: Facebook (80%);
  • Tablets: Apple (93%); and
  • Wireless Services: AT&T Wireless (89%).

It’s interesting to see that, with the exception of JetBlue (which may have taken the lead back from Air Canada due to the absence of Canadian respondents this year) and Target, all those categories maintained the same leaders from last year. The engagement indices for these brands were for the most part similar to last year’s scores also, with Google, Apple (for smartphones), Facebook, and AT&T the only to see a notable lift.

About the Data: Brand Keys describes its methodology as follows:

“For the 2016 survey, 42,792 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age from the nine US Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are top-20% customers. Seventy (70%) percent were interviewed by phone, 25% percent via face-to-face interviews (to identify and include cellphone-only households), and 5% online.

Brand Keys uses an independently validated research approach that fuses emotional and rational aspects of the categories. The research technique is a combination of psychological inquiry and statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, and provides results generalizable at the 95% confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries.

The output identifies the four behavioral drivers for the category-specific ‘Ideal,’ and identifies the emotional and rational values (and their percent-contribution to engagement) that form the components of each driver. Drivers ”“ and their component values ”“ are category-specific since consumers don’t buy smartphones the same way they buy cosmetics or pizza. The engagement and loyalty assessments measure how well brands meet expectations that consumers hold for each driver that makes up the category-specific Ideal.”

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