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Cosmetic and moisturizer brands, including Mary Kay, Estee Lauder and Clinique, accounted for a third of the 10th annual 2010 top-50 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders, in the annual survey by Brand Keys, the New York-based brand, customer loyalty and engagement consultancy.
Of the top 50, 12 percent of the leading brands were alcoholic beverages, principally vodka brands, including Grey Goose, Ketel One, 3 Olives, Stolichnaya, Rain, Chopin and Sky. “The number of alcohol brands may just be a reflection of how consumers feel about both the category and the economy,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. Adams (46) was the only beer brand to make the top-50 ranking.
On the other side of the bar, Dunkin Donuts coffee (14 up from 54 in 2009) and McDonald’s coffee (18) were the only other beverage brands to make the top 50 loyalty rankings.
“Brand loyalty is absolutely driven by emotion,” Passikoff said. “And the rankings on this year’s list make it clear that consumers are looking to emotionally connect with brands more than ever before.”
This year’s Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders List includes 501 brands in 70 categories. The brands in the 2010 top 10 include Apple iPhone, Samsung cell phones (1 and 2 respectively for the second consecutive year), Wal-Mart, Grey Goose vodka, Apple Computers, Hyundai, Amazon, J. Crew,
Blackberry and Avis.
The 2010 top 50 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders comprises eight general categories. Cosmetics and moisturizers (mass and luxury brands) accounts for 30 percent of the leading brands. “The ‘emotional engagement’ that women share with their favorite beauty brands is very powerful,” Passikoff said.
Technology brands, primarily smart and cell phone brands account for 26 percent of the top 50. “There’s nothing out there today better at fueling a consumer connection than technology,” Passikoff said. The technology group also includes search engines (Google, Bing, and MSN), Apple computers, and Kodak digital point-and-shoot cameras.
Sixteen percent of the top 50 Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders represents retailers (bricks, clicks and catalogs). Wal-Mart was rated 3. J. Crew took two places; one for clothing catalogues (8), the other for retail apparel stores (13). For department stores, Kohl’s earned its loyalty ranking this year (44), as did Amazon (7) for online, and Target (#6), Sam’s Club (29) and B.J.’s (42).
Automotive brand loyalty rankings were generally unchanged from last year, with only two car brands in the top 50: Hyundai (moved up from 295 two years ago to 24 last year) is now 6, an increase in loyalty largely due to significant increases in product quality, success of its new higher-end models and the on-going halo effect from its innovative and emotionally resonating buy-back campaign.
“Brands that can make a real, not superficial, emotional connection with consumers always engender higher levels of loyalty,” Passikoff said.
Toyota, a perennial loyalty leader, 15 last year, is now 37. “They’re still feeling the effects of the recalls and bad press over the past year,” Passikoff said. “It could have been worse for Toyota. They owned high degrees of loyalty and the ‘Loyalty Rule of 6,’ kicked in for them [when loyal consumers are six times more likely to give the brand the benefit of the doubt in uncertain circumstances]. That truth showed up in this year’s relatively small decline, considering the situation and profitable bottom lines.”
Some brands that showed the greatest gains in loyalty this year included: Progressive Insurance (+78), Avon (+53) and Domino s Pizza (+38).
“Progressive has been doing it right,” Passikoff said. “Their spokesperson, Flo, has turned out to be a trustworthy and uniquely cool emotional center that holds for consumers and telegraphs a future of painless online transactions.”
Avon recently introduced a new, more emotionally-based stand-on-your-own campaign, and Domino’s success has had a lot to do with the introduction of their new recipe and a new, consumer-inclusive approach to category satisfaction.
Among the brands that saw the greatest losses in loyalty were: Palm (-407), Tylenol Allergy (-199), and BP (-326).
Palm, at one time almost a generic for PDAs with very high loyalty, fell behind rivals who merged mobile and data management. Tylenol’s loyalty loss coincided with a number of product recent recalls, and BP, rated last in this year’s rankings (501), suffered from the Gulf oil spill.
Get the complete 2010 rankings at www.brandkeys.com/awards/leaders_10.cfm