There are plenty of reasons why the most relevant brands in America are leaders in their marketplaces (terrific products, stellar reputations, great marketing and PR…), but there’s a common-denominator metric that they all share—delivering a superb and memorable experience, which has become the most valuable loyalty metric of them all.
A new report from global consultancy Prophet, the firm’s third Prophet Brand Relevance Index (BRI), provides a ranking of the most relevant brands in consumers’ lives today, and all of the top ten brands are technology-led—proving that the most compelling brand experiences happen on demand, across devices and channels, not in one space or during one interaction.
Apple maintained its standing as the most relevant brand for the third year, while Spotify and Disney moved into the top ten, replacing Nike and Sephora. The top risers in this year’s study are sharing economy brands Uber and Airbnb.
The top ten most relevant brands are:
“Consumers live, work and play in a connected, digital world, so the brands that deliver useful, easily-accessible and enjoyable experiences are going to be the most relevant to their lives,” said Scott Davis, chief growth officer at Prophet, in a news release. “This is our third Brand Relevance Index in the U.S., and Apple, Netflix and Amazon have been in the top ten each time because they brilliantly use technology to innovate, delight and inspire consumers.”
In order to find out which brands are the most relevant, Prophet conducted a survey of 13,500 U.S. consumers about more than 275 brands across 27 industries. It measures four brand principles: customer obsession, ruthless pragmatism, pervasive innovation, and distinctive inspiration.
“The BRI is the only brand ranking based solely on consumer feedback. That is why there are critical differences between our findings and the rankings based on market cap, company size or a black box algorithm,” said Jesse Purewal, associate partner and co-author of the Prophet Brand Relevance Index, in the release. “By speaking directly with consumers, we’re able to determine which brands are truly indispensable to people’s lives and how forces like technology are changing consumer behaviors. Business leaders and brand builders can use our Index to identify both areas of strength and ways to improve the relevance of their brands.”
There are several findings from the report that reveal major changes in the way consumers interact with brands and what’s important to them. For example, both sharing economy and digital gaming brands are on the rise, which points to fundamental shifts in the way people engage with each other, both socially and through commerce. Also, despite record levels of people using social media platforms, most social media companies are not rated as very relevant by consumers.
Here are some key findings:
Social media brands continue to struggle
Pinterest is the only social media brand in the top ten, while big players like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat did not even make the top 50. These brands are hurt by their customer obsession scores, with consumers saying these brands don’t connect with them emotionally and are not indispensable to their lives.
Sharing economy brands continue to grow
Uber and Airbnb rose the most in the rankings compared to the last BRI. Uber gained 118 spots and Airbnb jumped 113. Although the sharing economy is clearly still on the rise, beauty brands appear to have lost relevance. L’OREAL and Sephora were among the brands that fell the most compared to last year’s data, dropping 72 and 61 spots respectively.
Digital gaming is on the rise
There were more gaming brands in the top 50 than financial services, airlines, restaurants and auto brands combined. PlayStation comes in at #11, and Xbox, Electronic Arts, Blizzard and Nintendo all ranked higher than household names like Visa, Starbucks and Ford.
When it comes to brands, red states and blue states are more alike than different
When looking at the top ten most relevant brands for red states vs. blue states, seven out of ten are the same. Although the results from the two groups are very similar, PlayStation and NPR performed better in blue states versus red.
“It’s clear to be successful, brands need more than size and ubiquity. They must create a product that people love enough to integrate into their everyday lives. The brands that inspire this level of loyalty will ultimately grow the fastest because they are relevant in the moments that matter most to consumers,” said Davis.
The Prophet Brand Relevance Index is released in four countries—China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Apple was the top brand in the U.S., UK and Germany, and Google ranked in the top three in each country. In China, Alipay took the top spot, followed by WeChat.
“The BRI data from across the globe shows that companies have a choice between putting digital at the front and center of their business model or losing relevance with a whole generation of consumers,” said Purewal.
Prophet surveyed 50,000 consumers across the U.S., UK, Germany and China about 750 brands. It partnered with SSI, a global provider of data solution and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research, to program, field, collect and tabulate data.