Retail Brands’ Emotional Bonds Weakening – Brand Keys Loyalty 100


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2012 16th Annual Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders Identifies New Categories,
Brands, Consumer Engagement Levels

-Consumers Opt for Social, Emotional and Electronic Connections-

For the complete top-100 2012 Loyalty Leaders List, please visit:

NEW YORK, NY October 25, 2012 – Apple, Amazon, Samsung, YouTube and Twitter
lead the 2012 Top 100 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders List, the 16th annual
survey conducted by Brand Keys (, the New York-based brand
and customer loyalty and engagement research consultancy.

“In 16 years aggregating brand loyalty leaders, this is the first time we’ve
seen such a seismic shift in loyalty leadership in terms of new categories
and brands making their appearance in the top-100,” said Robert Passikoff,
Brand Keys founder and president. “Brand loyalty has always been primarily
driven by emotional engagement, and the rankings this year make it crystal
clear that connection is everything.”

With 598 brands in 83 categories for consumers to rate, there’s strong
competition for the top 100 spots. “This year certain categories rose to the
top because of the high levels of engagement that consumers show, and what
they deliver versus consumers’ expectations,” said Passikoff.

“The good news is that brand loyalty is understandable. The better news is,
it can be quantified and predicted,” said Passikoff. “And, in these economic
times, knowing what’s coming down the road gives a brand an extraordinarily
powerful advantage.”

21 New Brands – Most Facilitate Social Out-Reach

“Twenty-one new brands appear on the 2012 list,” noted Passikoff. “Most new
arrivals facilitate social outreach: tablets, smartphones, and social
networks,” with Apple and Amazon taking the top two spots.

The top-10 Brand Keys loyalty leaders rank:

1. Apple: tablets
2. Amazon: tablets
3. Apple: smartphone
4. Amazon: on-line retail
5. Apple: computer
6. Samsung: tablet
7. Call of Duty: major league gaming
8. Samsung: cellphone
9. Halo: major league gaming
10. Twitter: social networks

Loyalty Leaders Top 100 Winners and Losers

The brands that showed the greatest loyalty gains on the list this year

Sephora (+60 places)
Starbucks (+55)
Ford (+47)
Samsung smartphones (+30)
Costco (+24)

Brands that saw the greatest erosion of loyalty and engagement included:

Netflix (-69 places)
Bing (-60)
Blackberry (-40)
B.J.’s Price Club (-31)
Flickr (-29)

“Some brands suffered losses because of the economy as consumers shifted to
less expensive brands that still held some degree of meaning,” said
Passikoff. Some shifts are due to the creation and adoption of new
categories that better meet – or even exceed – customer expectations. But
brands that understand that real emotional connections can serve as a
surrogate for added-value will always top the list – no matter the state of
the economy.”

Outreach Is Cellular and Social

Twenty-three percent (23%) of the top-100 brands account for consumer
outreach and engagement via cellular and social networks, and the phones,
smartphones, computers, and tablets needed for the “instant-gratification
access consumer expectations cry out for,” said Passikoff.

Personal Care Brands Get Trimmed

Last year beauty and personal care brands accounted for nearly a third of
the top-100 but in 2012 represent only 18% of the top-100 brands. “The
emotional engagement that women share with their favorite beauty brands can
be very powerful, but again, consumers are looking harder for a reason to
believe and a reason to bond – and buy – one brand versus myriad ‘me-too’
products on store shelves,” said Passikoff.

Retailers Ring Up Fewer Ratings

Retail brands were down nearly a third – looking at bricks and clicks
providers – on this year’s list. “We believe that the inability for
retailers to provide meaningful differentiation – beyond low-lower-lowest
pricing strategies – has seriously eroded loyalty levels in the retail
category,” said Passikoff. is still high on the list (#4), but emotional bonds have weakened
across the retail category. Zappos (#6 last year) moved down the list to #19
this year; the next ranked retailer is Target, at #36.

Drinking and Driving

Five (5) automotive brands made the top-100 on the Brand Keys Loyalty
Leaders List, including: Hyundai (#25), Ford (#39), Toyota (#46), General
Motors (#68), and KIA (#99). This is the first time GM and Kia have made the
top-100 rankings.

Alcoholic beverages appeared nearly 2:1 versus auto brands, with nine vodka
and tequila brands making the list, slightly down from last year. Grey Goose
maintained its loyalty lead in the #13 spot, up two spots, followed by Ketel
One (#24) and Stolichnaya (#34). Don Julio led the tequilas, ranked #42.


The Loyalty Leaders analysis was conducted in September 2012 and includes
assessments from 49,221 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, 20% via face-to-face interviews (to account
for today’s of the population who are cell phone-only consumers,) and the
remaining consumers assessed categories and brands on-line. Loyalty Leader
assessments examine 83 categories and 598 brands.

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