Online Brand Loyalty Survey – Consumers Seek Meaningful Experiences – Brand Keys Finds

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BRAND KEYS 2012 CUSTOMER LOYALTY INDEX SURVEY CONFIRMS CONSUMERS’ DESIRE FOR
BRAND DELIGHT

Importance of “Brand” Differentiation Continues To Escalate as Consumers
Search for Meaningful Experiences and Interactions with Online Products and
Services

NEW YORK, NY February 13, 2012 – The discovery of a “Decade of Delight,”
which describes consumers’ key brand expectations was the critical finding
in last year’s annual Brand Keys(CLEI) conducted by the New York-based brand
and customer loyalty and engagement consultancy (www.brandkeys.com). This
year, evidence continues to mount that it is indeed “delight” that defines
the consumer relationship with brands in the Online Products and Services
category.

For all 41 brands tracked in the Online Products and Services category,
attributes relating to “brand reputation” and “ease of use” are exerting the
strongest impact on customer decision-making, category-expectations, and
engagement with brands.

While expectation levels for delight vary by category, brands in the Online
Products and Services category that were best at creating customer delight
are:

* Amazon.com
* Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
* Expedia
* Google
* Options Xpress
* Scottrade.com

“Consumer expectations have been accelerating for some time,” said Robert
Passikoff, president, Brand Keys. “Many industry pundits have looked at the
pressures on price and drew the erroneous conclusion that brands have lost
their value. Quite the opposite is true. Real brands are more valuable than
ever. We need only look to the continuing success of luxury brands as
evidence. Brands that lack meaningful differentiation are being punished by
the economic and behavioral shifts, becoming ‘category placeholders’ because
consumers do not look for commodities in their search for delight.”

As Consumers Change, Categories Change – Brands Must Change

“Brand Keys CLEI data predicts emerging trends in the consumer marketplace.
Every category we can compare to last year shows a rise in either the
“importance of” or “increased expectations” when it comes to the brand-based
attributes that most strongly impact the customer experience. In short,
things that generate delight,” noted Brand Keys’ Passikoff.

“Given the levels of commoditization we’ve witnessed in product/services and
pricing/promotion strategies, it’s no surprise consumers are looking to
strong brands to offer a difference. Consumers know the brands, know what
they do, and know what they’re willing to pay. Satisfaction has never been
more cost-of-entry while delight is the new differentiator.”

“Experience is key, whether it’s experience with products themselves, or how
products are put into the hands of consumers – from rapid delivery to
product introductions – including the after-life of service and support that
the consumer experiences. Consumers want a higher level of experience,” said
Passikoff.

This year consumers’ skyrocketing desire for experience and authentic brand
values are exerting the strongest impact on customer decision-making and
profitable engagement with brands. Brands that can meet, or exceed, consumer
expectations become category leaders. “This only matters, of course, if
marketers keep score by counting sales and profits, not by merely tracking
awareness levels,” noted Passikoff.

Brands that Delight the Consumer

Online Products and Services brand loyalty and engagement rankings for 2012:

Brokerage
1. Scottrade.com/Options Xpress (tie)
2. Fidelity.com
3. Schwab.com
4. TDAmeritrade.com
5. Vanguard.com
6. MerrillLynch.com
7. Etrade.com

Major League Gaming
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
2. Halo
3. Battlefield/Madden Football (tie)
4. World of Warcraft/FIFA 2012 (tie)
5. Starcraft 2/Batman Arkham City/Diablo/NBA 2K12 (tie)
6. Crysis
7. Gears of War
8. Elder’s Scrolls Skyrim

Retail
1. Amazon.com
2. Ebay.com
3. Overstock.com
4. Zappos
5. Buy.com

Travel
1. Expedia
2. Orbitz
3. Travelocity
4. Kayak
5. Priceline
6. Hotwire
7. Hotels.com
8. CheapTickets

Search Engine
1. Google
2. Yahoo
3. Bing
4. MSN
5. AOL
6. ASK
7. AltaVista

Methodology

For the Brand Keys 2012 survey, 49,000 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.
Seventy-five percent (75%) were interviewed by phone, twenty percent (20%)
via face-to-face interviews (to account for today’s population, who are cell
phone-only consumers) and the remaining consumers assessed categories and
brands online.

“At a time when brands are struggling to differentiate themselves and to
find ways to profitably engage with customers, the changes in the 2012 Brand
Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index serve as a benchmark for marketers.
Products and services that respond with a meaningful consumer-centric view
of their category – delighting the customer – based on predictive loyalty
metrics, stand to gain the most, and will establish themselves as this
decade’s brand leaders,” concluded Passikoff.

The complete listing of the 83 category rankings can be found at
http://brandkeys.com/syndicated-studies/customer-loyalty-engagement-index/

According to the Brand Keys Holiday Survey, here’s how online retailers
ranked, the top-15, when it came to customer visits:

1. Amazon
2. Wal-Mart
3. Apple
4. Target
5. Zappos
6. Best Buy
7. Kohls
8. Sears
9. JCPenney
10. Macy’s
11. Toys R Us
12. Kmart
13. Overstock
14. Bed, Bath, and Beyond
15. GameStop

“We’re predicting a 3% increase in holiday sales this year. But whether
bricks or clicks, real and virtual cash registers are ringing more this
holiday season. And that should give retailers something to really
celebrate,” said Robert Passikoff, president, Brand Keys.

Methodology

Since 1996, Brand Keys has annually conducted national Customer Loyalty
Engagement Index surveys of leading brands among 45,000 men and women, 18 to
65 years of age, with respondents drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions.
The majority of interviews are conducted via telephone; 20% of the
interviews are conducted via central location intercept so as not to exclude
“cell phone-only” consumers.

Nearly 20% of respondents, 7,500 respondents (50:50 Men/Women, aged 21 to 65
years of age) also respond to questions about the value or importance they
place on the fashion brands and of the clothing brands they feel are
important to them.

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