Digital technology and social networking brands—and brands that facilitate digital tech or social networking—represent more than a third (36 percent) of the 2017 Loyalty Leaders List in the 21st annual survey conducted by brand and customer loyalty and engagement research consultancy Brand Keys.
“Digital brands represent the lion’s share of this year’s list once again, also commanding the most spots among the top 20 Loyalty Leaders to make up 70 percent of that portion of the 2017 Loyalty Leaders,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president, in a news release. “Not surprisingly a number of digital brands show up as Loyalty Leaders in multiple categories.”
2017 Top Loyalty Leaders in digital
The list shows actual rankings among the 2017 top 100 Loyalty Leaders as well as loyalty growth or erosion represented by movement up or down the list.
Digital brands resonate
“It appears that digital brands resonate better and create higher levels of emotional engagement—the ability for a brand to be perceived as meeting consumers’ expectations for their Ideal in the brands’ category. Today emotional engagement is the predictive, real-world yardstick for loyalty, market share, and profitability,” said Passikoff. “Want to know what consumers are going to do? Measure consumer loyalty and emotional engagement and you can know for sure.”
Category loyalty leaders. Digital and. . .
For 2017, Brand Keys examined 740 brands in 83 categories. Digital technology, social networking brands had the most Loyalty Leader brands, 36 percent of the 2017 list, up 2 percent YOY. But other categories were well-represented by Loyalty Leader brands, including:
- Retail: 16 percent
- Automotive/Auto Rental/Ride Share: 12 percent
- Restaurants: 9 percent
- Financial: 8 percent
- Cosmetics: 7 percent
- Alcohol: 7 percent
- TV News: 2 percent
Seven new brands replace seven old brands
“This year seven of the top 100 Loyalty Leaders are new. Two more than last year,” said Passikoff. “They seem to have joined the list in category-pairs.” Two represented the TV News category: FOX (#47) and MSNBC (#58). Another two represented Restaurants: Shake Shack (#99) and 5 Guys Burgers & Fries (#100). Two were automotive-related: GEICO (#88) and Lyft (#95), and one brand, Zara (#89), replaced two retailers that fell out of the top 100, GAP and J. Crew. Other brands that slipped from the top 100 included: Burt’s Bees, Chipotle, Google + and, PacSun.
2017’s biggest loyalty winners
Loyalty and emotional engagement are leading indicators of future consumer behavior with loyalty-driving behavior. “The better consumers behave toward a brand, the better the brand will do in the marketplace, which ultimately shows up on brands’ bottom lines,” added Passikoff.. This year the five brands that showed the greatest loyalty leadership gains in 2017 were:
- Vanguard (+56 to #44)
- Forever 21 (+46 to #37)
- Home Depot (+39 to #45)
- Jack Daniels (+35 to #57
- Lowes (+33 to #66)
The biggest loyalty losers
The five brands with the greatest loyalty erosion, but still maintaining a spot in the top 100 included:
- Zuprowka Vodka (-53 to #74)
- L’Oreal (-40 to #91)
- Sam’s Club (-35 to #82)
- Bose (-27 to #72)
- Under Armour (-23 to #51)
Loyalty’s bottom line
When it comes to loyalty—no matter the category—brands that understand that emotional connections can serve as surrogates for added-value will succeed. “Brands that have made loyalty and emotional engagement a strategic priority always appear high on the Loyalty Leaders List,” added Passikoff. “More importantly, they always appear at the top of consumers’ lists.”
Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders analysis was conducted in September 2017 and includes assessments from 49,168 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age, recruited from the nine US Census Regions. Respondents self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are customers. The 2017 Loyalty Leader assessments examined 83 categories and evaluated 740 brands.