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The “Decade of Delight” describes the key expectation of today's consumers, in the 15th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index survey, conducted by the New York-based brand and customer loyalty and engagement consultancy.
For all 87 brands tracked in the 12 consumer packaged goods categories, attributes relating to “experience” and “authentic innovation” in products and services 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 CPG category that were best at creating customer delight were Claritin, Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Pampers, Tide, Advil, Brawny, Barilla, Purina, Purina One, Tom’s of Maine, Crest, and Crest Whitestrips.
“This evolution has been accelerating for some time. Brand value has increasingly been defined not through the narrow lens of price, but in terms of the total experience that consumers have when they interact with a given brand,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “This year’s results demonstrate that concept has truly taken hold, showing its greatest increase in expectations in the purchase drivers centered on attributes that most strongly impact the customers’ overall experience.”
Passikoff continued: “The CLEI data is predictive of coming shifts in the consumer marketplace, 12 to 18 months before it shows up in traditional research. Given the levels of commoditization we've witnessed in product/service delivery and pricing/promotion strategies it is no surprise consumers are looking for their favorite brands to make a real difference. Consumers know the brands, know what they do, and know what they're willing to pay for them. They’re looking for delight.
“Innovation is key, whether it’s innovation in the products themselves, or innovation in how those products are put into the hands of consumers – from rapid delivery to product introductions – and the after-life of service and support that the consumer experiences. And, consumers want meaningful innovation that results in a higher level of experience. Satisfaction has never been more cost-of-entry; delight is the new differentiator.”
This year consumers’ skyrocketing desire for experience and authentic innovation are exerting the strongest impact on customer decision-making and profitable engagement with the brand. Brands able to meet or exceed these expectations become category leaders. “This only matters, of course, if you're keeping score by counting sales and profits,” Passikoff said, “and not merely tracking awareness levels.”
For the survey, 46,000 consumers age 18 to 65, drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are customers. Seventy-five percent were interviewed by phone, 20 percent 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 online.
Ten new categories were added to the 2011 CLEI – Drug Stores, E-Readers, Hair Conditioners, Movie Rentals, Online Retailers, Shampoo, Social Networking Sites, Tequila and Tooth Whiteners – bringing the total number of categories and brands to 79 and 528, respectively.
“At a time when CPG brands are struggling to differentiate themselves and find ways to profitably engage their customers, the changes this year serve as a real benchmark for CPG marketers,” Passikoff said. “Products that respond with a truly consumer-centric view of their category – delighting the customer – based on predictive loyalty metrics, stand to gain the most and establish themselves as this decade's brand leaders.”
The complete listing of the 79 category rankings can be found at www.brandkeys.com/awards.