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Mobile, social is key to driving consumer loyalty for brands: report

Twenty-three percent of the top 100 brands for loyalty enable consumer outreach and engagement via mobile and social networks using phones, smartphones, computers and tablets, according to a new report from Brand Keys.

The 16th annual survey of the top 100 loyalty brands from Brand Keys includes 21 new brands this year, many of which facilitate social outreach via tablets and smartphones. Apple and Amazon dominate the top five, appearing multiple times across different product categories.

?The fact that we are seeing a kind of fusion of technologies has become extraordinarily important in understanding how brands market to people,? said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, New York.

?The issue is what the consumer wants in terms of what they are holding in their hand and what they expect the technology to do, and what they expect the technology not to do,? he said. ?That is why there are so many of news categories showing up at the top of the list.

?You have to go to number 12 on the list before you are not dealing with a tech brand that has a natural fit into mobile."

Emotional engagement
The 2012 list represents a significant shift in terms of new categories and brands that make their appearance, reflecting growing consumer expectations regarding a brand?s ability to facilitate social connections.

Brand loyalty is driven primarily by emotional engagement. The brands that appear at the top of the list this year are there because of the high levels of engagement that consumers show with these brands as well as their ability to deliver on consumers? expectations.

The top ten loyalty leaders according to Brand Keys? research are: Apple ? tablets; Amazon tablets; Apple ? smartphone; Amazon - online retail; Apple ? computer; Samsung ? tablet; Call of Duty - major league gaming; Samsung ? mobile phone; Halo - major league gaming; Twitter - social networks.

Among the brands that saw the greatest loyalty gains are Starbucks ? which has a strong mobile strategy - and Samsung smartphones.

Brands that do not get it right in mobile face the possibility of eroding loyalty. Among the brands that the saw the greatest erosion of loyalty and engagement this year are Netflix, Bing and BlackBerry.

Interestingly, Facebook?s loyalty ranking dropped from 3 last year to 16 this year, during a period when the company has been struggling to improve its mobile strategy.

Instant gratification
The results show that need to pay attention to what customer expectations are for mobile and for social outreach. Key is being able to deliver the instant gratification access consumers expect.

The brands that are successful in terms of loyalty and engagement are those where there is an organic fit with mobile, per Mr. Passikoff.

Brand Keys also identified a group of people in every category that are high digital usage consumers.

?What they want and how they use mobile is entirely different from the general population,? Mr. Passikoff said.

?It really is a matter of understanding both the hardware and the emotional software of the user in order to see what you can and can?t do,? he said.

?Right now, folks are just throwing stuff against the wall partially because it is there and partially because it doesn?t cost a lot to do.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York