Brand intimacy in 2020—which brands and industries are making emotional connections?

by | Feb 19, 2020 | Public Relations

With today’s über-fast pace of brand marketing and the many ways consumers can purchase from and interact with brands and retailers, it’s become a challenge for brands to establish real emotional connections, even with their most regular patrons. But according to new research from brand intimacy agency MBLM, one of the world’s biggest and most influential brands is making particularly strong connections—and could amass a new disruptive level of brand power and performance.

Retail giant Amazon ranked #1 for the first time in MBLM’s newly released Brand Intimacy 2020 Study, the largest study of brands based on emotions, now in its 10th year.Disney and Apple placed second and third in the study.

From an industry perspective, automotive brands comprised four out of the top 10, up from three in 2019, while media & entertainment brands slipped by one—making up four of the top 10 in last year’s study and three in 2020. Apple represented the only technology & telecommunications brand. The remaining brands in the top 10 were: Ford, Jeep, Netflix, BMW, Chevrolet, Walmart and PlayStation.

Brand intimacy in 2020—which brands and industries are making emotional connections?

“The concept of brand intimacy is important for marketers because emotion has been proven to drive purchase decisions, and also long-term customer bonds. Our yearly study reveals the changing landscape, including which brands or industries perform best against different demographics,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, in a news release.

Top intimate brands in the U.S. also continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study. The average revenue growth from 2009-2018 was 6.47 percent for the top 10 most intimate brands, compared to 5.16 percent for top S&P companies and 5.08 percent for Fortune 500 top brands. The average profit growth during this same period was 37.69 percent for leading intimate brands compared to 6.99 percent for S&P companies and 16.43 percent for Fortune 500 companies.

“Amazon’s rise to the top is something we forecasted for years based on the insights we’ve been gathering,” said Natarelli. “The brand’s dominance and breadth of portfolio have formed both intense and essential bonds with consumers. Examining top performers like Amazon can give us clues on how others can achieve their growth and success.”

Brand intimacy in 2020—which brands and industries are making emotional connections?

The study also revealed additional noteworthy findings in the U.S. including:

  • Automotive, media & entertainment and technology & telecommunications were the top three industries, respectively
  • Willingness to pay more for intimate brands increased by 13 percent, suggesting a more stable economy and consumer confidence
  • The top three brands for women were Disney, Amazon and Apple and for men were Ford, Amazon and Apple. Women had slightly higher rates of brand intimacy compared to men
  • Millennials selected PlayStation as their #1 brand whereas Gen Z ranked Xbox first
  • Those making between $35,000-$100,000 chose Disney, Amazon and Apple as their most intimate brands, while those making over $100,000 ranked Apple, Amazon and BMW as their top three
  • Consistent with the previous three years, brands that are part of the smartphone ecosystem generally outperformed those that are not. The average Brand Intimacy Quotient for those in the ecosystem was 38.1, which is significantly higher than the overall study average of 31.0

Download the full report here.

During 2019, MBLM with Praxis Research Partners conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,200 consumers in the U.S. (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,200). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (18 to 64 years of age) and annual household income ($35,000 or more) in the U.S. and socioeconomic levels in Mexico and the UAE (A, B and C socioeconomic levels).

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter