The 20 Brands With The Most Loyal Customers

Amazon

Photo: Flickr Carl Malamud

Although companies spend billions each year to try to make their brands resonate with consumers, few ever end up with truly fanatic customers.But the perks are huge for those who do. Loyal customers consistently come back to buy more, they’re more willing to stay despite increases in price and they become strong advocates for the brand in their own social circles and online.

Brand Keys, a research firm devoted to consumer behaviour metrics, recently updated its 2011 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which looks at 528 big brands in 79 categories — from smartphones to allergy medicines.

Through a combination of psychological assessments and statistical analyses of customers, Brand Keys determines how much brands exceed what consumers expect, and how loyal they will be down the road.

#20 Twitter

2010 rank: N/A

Social networks make their debut as a category in Brand Keys' study this year, and Twitter comes in at #2 in the industry. Despite the variety of social networks around, there's nothing quite like Twitter in the microblogging world, and it can be used as a supplement to their other networks.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#19 LG (cell phone)

2010 rank: #38

LG is one of three cell or smartphone brands in the top 20, and its cell brand was the only to make the top 100. Its other brands that were looked at in the study -- smartphones and both types of HDTV's -- fell short.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#18 L'Oreal (hair colour)

2010 rank: #31

The folks that use L'Oreal's hair colour products are much more loyal than buyers of its other products. L'Oreal's second-highest brand -- its cosmetics line -- ranked only 7th place in its industry despite cracking the top 40 overall.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#17 Ketel One

2010 rank: #14

Ketel One came in as the #3 liquor brand and #2 in vodka. Branding -- and the ability to differentiate -- is particularly important in a busy competitive environment like the vodka industry which includes giant brands like Smirnoff and Absolut.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#16 Google

2010 rank: #11

Google is the top search engine on the list, easily beating out both Bing (#30) and Yahoo! (#71).

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#15 Grey Goose

2010 rank: #4

The strength of the Bacardi-owned premium vodka brand shines again in 2011, but not to the extent it has in the past, dropping 11 spots from last year. Both Grey Goose and Ketel One have outdone rival Belvedere -- who pioneered the American premium vodka industry in the mid-1990's -- in growing bases of rabid fans.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#14 Maybelline

2010 rank: #16

The L'Oreal-owned Maybelline clocks in at #2 in cosmetics, far ahead of its parent company's cosmetics brand. Maybelline has maintained its loyal following through the past century despite going through many ownership changes, showcasing the power of a strong brand.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#13 Walmart

2010 rank: #3

The world's largest retailer once again beats out Target and Kmart in the discount retail category, though it drops 10 spots overall. Despite not having an explicit loyalty program, their promise of 'Every day low prices' keeps people coming back for more.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#12 Dunkin' doughnuts (coffee)

2010 rank: #14

Dunkin's coffee drinkers are far more loyal than Starbucks', who improved from #452 to #100. McDonald's coffee also beat Starbucks, coming in at #26 on the index.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#11 Crest Whitestrips

2010 rank: N/A

Crest Whitestrips wins in the debut of the new tooth whitener category, ahead of the Five Minute Speed Whitening System and Rembrandt Whitening. It's hard to differentiate dental care products, so it's important that they leverage the existing brand from its other products -- and that the product itself performs.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#10 Mary Kay

2010 rank: #20

Mary Kay is the top cosmetics brand on the index. The still-privately held company has been making skin-care and cosmetics products since the 1960's, and the brand has remained resilient despite numerous controversies.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#9 Patron

2010 rank: N/A

Premium tequila brand Patron checks in as the highest liquor brand on the index. There are three other tequila brands that made it into the top 100: Don Julio (#29), Sauza (#41) and Jose Cuervo (#81).

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#8 Kindle

2010 Rank: N/A

In another new category, Amazon's Kindle ranks as the top e-reader, though Barnes & Noble's Nook (#52) also debuts in the top 100.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#7 Hyundai

2010 rank: #6

Hyundai is the only auto brand in the top 20 and, dropping just one spot from the previous year. It's an impressive long-term turnaround for Hyundai, whose rebranding from cheap-to-premium has been no easy feat to pull off.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#6 Zappos

2010 rank: N/A

Tony Hsieh's Zappos has used a loyalty-based business model from the get-go, creating a culture around that brand that naturally encourages repeat buying.Though Amazon bought the company out in 2009, Zappos was allowed to stay an independent entity and kept its branding. Its loyal consumer base stayed.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#5 Apple (computer)

2010 rank: #5

Apple's Mac brand maintains its spot at #5 in this year's rankings, supporting its infamously loyal fanbase. Few brands have created the deep feeling of personal identification that Mac users have felt over the years.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#4 Samsung (cell phone)

2010 rank: #2

Samsung's cell phones come in #1 in the category -- a ranking they're used to, having held that title for the past eight years on the index. Though #2 in smart phones too, its overall ranking is #57 -- miles behind the industry leader.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#3 Facebook

2010 rank: N/A

Mark Zuckerberg's network debuts on the list this year having surpassed 750 million active users. With MySpace decimated and essentially out of the picture, Facebook has free reign over the mainstream bulk of the industry, making it no surprise that its customers are loyal enough to get the social network into the top three.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#2 Apple (smartphone)

2010 rank: #1

Apple's iPhone drops out of the number one spot, but not far, still giving Apple two separate rankings within the top five.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

#1 Amazon

2010 rank: #7

One of three online retailers in the top 100, Jeff Bezos' mammoth online retailer jumps into the top spot, grabbing it from Apple's iPhone. Amazon has long thrived on its loyal droves of customers, using its brand and ability to offer lower shipping rates to keep customers coming back. And its loyalty program, Amazon Prime, is growing 20% each year, and now has 5 million customers signed up for it.

Source: Brand Keys, based on psychological assessments & statistical analyses

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