Before consumers buy, they talk. They seek recommendations from friends, co-workers and family about where to shop, what to eat or drink and what shows to watch—and those conversations have a huge impact on the revenue of the brands being discussed. In fact, new research from Engagement Labs finds that these consumer conversations drive 19 percent of all consumer sales.

In a recent analysis of more than 500 consumer brands in a variety of categories, then firm ranked the brands that are the most talked about in consumer conversations. The rankings are based on the volume of conversation about the brand online (via social media) and offline (via face-to-face conversations).

The rankings are based on measurements of the four most important drivers of brand performance:

  • Brand sharing—the extent to which people are sharing or talking about a brand’s marketing or advertising
  • Sentiment—having more positive than negative conversations
  • Volume—a measure of how many conversations mention a brand, and
  • Influence—the extent to which an influential audience is talking about a brand

The most talked about brands—who’s inciting the most jabber?

Walmart clipped the top spot as the Most Talked About Brand offline

As the largest brick-and-mortar retailer in the world—more than one-third of Americans visit Walmart in person or online every day—it’s no surprise that the brand is the subject of more real-life consumer conversations than any other.

But in its fierce competition with Amazon, the retailer has also taken action. For example, the company revamped its return policy to make it easier to start the process from the Walmart app.

By offering customers the comfort of shopping online from home along with the ease of picking up in-store, Walmart has a compelling competitive angle that drives consumer talk. Evidently, this effort is having an impact: the retailer’s U.S. e-commerce sales were up approximately 40 percent in 2017.

“The Most Talked About brands are, of course, leaders in both size and market share. However, their marketing departments also understand the importance of making strategic decisions that get people talking, in order to distinguish themselves from the competition,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs, in a news release. “These brands compete fiercely on the playing field by investing in talkworthy advertising, designing talkworthy products and cultivating relationships with loyal customers who advocate for the brand.”

The brand right behind Walmart is—quite literally—on everyone’s lips

With nearly 3,900 beverage choices, the largest beverage company in the world, Coca-Cola, earned the number two spot as Most Talked About Brand in offline conversations. In 2017, the company hired James Quincy as CEO, saying it would “focus on driving revenue growth by building and bringing to market ‘consumer-centric’ brands—including more low- and no-sugar options and drinks in emerging categories.” The brand was also named the official soft drink of Major League Baseball.

Meanwhile, Samsung, which manufactures everything from smartphones to washing machines, comes in at number three among the Most Talked About offline brands. While Samsung beat out key rival Apple for the top three list, this is due mainly to branding decisions by the two companies. For example, Samsung uses the same brand name for all its products, while Apple has several sub brands like iPhone, iTunes, iPad, and Mac. If one were to add all the Apple-owned brands together, it would rise to number one on the list for volume of conversation.

Online, the Most Talked About brand was Fox News

The network won the ratings war in 2017 and found itself in the social media spotlight. President Donald Trump generated significant conversation about the brand when he tweeted numerous times about the channel using the #foxnews hashtag.

Reflecting the dominant role of sports in consumer conversations, the NBA was number two and the NFL number three on the list for the most online conversations. The edge for the NBA comes largely from a longer season than the NFL with five times the number of games, providing basketball fans a greater opportunity to talk about the NBA on social media. Additionally, the last game of the NBA Finals in 2017 was the most watched one since 1998, which enabled the league to jump ahead of other brands.

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Richard Carufel

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 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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