The sub-par performance of the apps & social platforms industry continued in 2018—the industry again ranked 12th out of the 15 studied in the Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions, from brand intimacy agency MBLM.
Apple Music led the way, followed by Facebook and Spotify. The remaining brands in the Top 10 app & social platforms industry were: Pinterest, Pandora, Snapchat, Google Maps, Twitter, Uber and Instagram.
Brand Intimacy is defined as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand. For the third year, the study revealed that top intimate brands in the U.S. surpassed the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years.
“It is ironic that an industry that is built on connection and social interaction has such significant problems building bonds with its users,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, in a news release. “Trust, privacy concerns and the nascence of these brands all impact their struggle to build brand intimacy—however, the industry has an opportunity to create stronger emotional bonds with their users by changing their current approach.”
Other significant apps & social platforms findings in the report include:
- The app & social platform industry had a Brand Intimacy Quotient of 18.0, well below the industry average of 27.1
- Ritual, which relates to a brand being ingrained into daily actions, was the industry’s most prominent archetype and Apple Music was the top brand for ritual in this category
- Apple Music climbed up five spots, ranking #6 last year and #1 in the industry in 2018
- Apple Music also ranked #1 for millennials and men, while women preferred Facebook
- Facebook also ranked #1 with those 35 to 44 years old
- Those ages 18 to 24 preferred Spotify, as do people with incomes between $35,000 and $50,000
- Google Maps, Pinterest and Instagram all had lower Brand Intimacy Quotients than they did last year
Three key barriers were identified that inhibit apps & social platforms from building intimate brand relationships:
Trust is a bust
The U.S. saw a steep decline in trust for social media and search engines, dropping from 53 to 42 percent. The apps & social platforms industry had a below-average percentage in the bonding stage, the middle stage of Brand Intimacy that is defined by an establishment of trust
Selling influence has a price
Ad spend on channels is increasing sharply and consumers generally dislike ads. It seems likely that an unfavorable view has impacted users’ feelings of intimacy towards these brands
Getting the short end of the smartphone ecosystem
Brands that thrive within the smartphone ecosystem have a great level of Brand Intimacy on average than those outside of it. The benefits of apps are attributed to the brands of their devices and because apps and social platforms are often free and used predominantly on smartphones, they can be seen as utilities or extensions of the smartphones’ operating system that users feel entitled to
During 2017, MBLM conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,000 consumers in the United States (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,000). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (i.e. 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). Quotas were established to ensure that the sample mirrored census data for age, gender, income/socioeconomic level, and region. The survey was designed primarily to understand the extent to which consumers have relationships with brands and the strength of those relationships, from fairly detached to highly intimate.