January is the time for companies to unveil reports on how well they performed in the fourth quarter of the previous year (and the year on the whole), but this review is not about loss and profit figures. Instead, it focuses the buzz ranking, the index that might be as important for brands as financial data. YouGov BrandIndex carefully listened to consumers all year long to figure it out, which companies were getting people talk in nine countries (the UK, Germany, Finland, Sweden, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates), and if this feedback was positive or negative. So, which brands generated most buzz in the past year and why?
The chart is based on the results of YouGov BrandIndex’s survey, which asked respondents, «If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?«. Then the team behind the survey analyzed positive and negative perceptions, combined the data and finally built the list of brands with the highest increase in positive buzz between January-December 2011. Since the charts are mirroring the people’s attitudes to companies’ activities in several countries, the brands and charts are different in each country. But still there are some global players, which that got listed on at least two of the local rankings—they are Google (9 countries), Apple (7), IKEA (4), Amazon (3) and Nivea (2). In this review, we will highlight several buzz leaders in the U.S., the UK and Germany, with all respect to the rest of countries where the survey was conducted (we miss out Nordic counties since most positions in these charts were taken by local companies, while we would like to focus on the global market brands). Let’s take a short look at what actually the brands did to get the nations talking last year.
Photo: YouGov BrandIndex Buzz Rankings across all categories in the U.S., www.brandindex.com
As the official website of the research company informs, “The BrandIndex Buzz Rankings compared Buzz scores for more than 1100 brands in 41 categories” to reveal the top brands with the most positive buzz in 2011. Subway managed to outperform other giants on the U.S. buzz score list and is resting on the very top of the chart for the second running year. Why? Primarily, because of its winning campaigns and marketing efforts, which included TVC launched to support an Oven Crisp Chicken sub, as well as ‘Customer Appreciation Month’ (till the end of December, consumers could buy Meatball Marinara or Cold Cut Combo sub for $2) and a range of other promotions. The brand also has great social media presence since its Facebook page got over 9.8 million friends and its Twitter channel has over 295,700 followers, which also helps the brand to interact with its fans through a variety of online competitions and promotions. Amazon landed in the #2 spot thanks to the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet and successful online retailing season this Chistmas. Google scooped the fourth position for the launch of Google+ (which opened for teenagers last week), a range of digital products aimed at enhancing consumer experience (Google Wallet is among these new features, read more about them here) plus the acquisition of Motorola Mobility and Zagat. It’s quite surprising to see Apple, the leader of most charts featuring the top performing brands, at the very bottom of the overall U.S. chart here, but in fact it’s a very good result for the brand (in 2010 it scored just 30.7). The year of 2011 was full of both happy and sad events for Apple—the launch of iPad 2 and iPhone 4S and passing of Steve Jobs in October—all of which lifted the company’s buzz score immensely.
The BrandIndex Buzz Rankings measured and compared buzz scores for more than 850 brands in 34 categories in the UK throughout the past years. In 2011, consumer sentiment toward Amazon was consistently positive, which drove the brand to the #1 on the list—the reasons are just the same as in the USA. The online store is followed by Marks & Spencer, which really deserves this top place due to its marketing activities, which included the new ‘family-first’ stores launch in fall, celebrity collaborations and promotions. The public also liked introduction of a range of new services, which resulted in the profit increase. “Total sales at its direct delivery business jumped by 22.4% after it extended its next day delivery deadline and launched an online Christmas food order service,” as reported here. “Marks & Spencer remains a ubiquitous and much loved British brand. CEO Marc Bolland is now trying to transplant this goodwill into the mainland European market…” states the survey. The UK consumers gave the most positive feedback on the retailers’ performance as the previous two were followed by John Lewis (this advert generated a lot of buzz), Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. BBC climbed to rank #4 in the chart as one of the most loved broadcasting corporations in the country, which actively adopts latest technology to enhance consumer experience. For instance, BBC moved towards HTML5 for its news website, “turned iPads into mobile production suites”, and more. “The BBC’s multi-faceted provision of information and entertainment is demonstrated by the number of sub-brands that register strongly on BrandIndex,” says the source.
Photo: YouGov BrandIndex Buzz Rankings across all categories in Germany, www.brandindex.com
Nivea, the brand which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011, landed in the #1spot on the German list for its clear and reputable image and a range of promotions dedicated to the milestone. It’s a real breakthrough as last year the brand wasn’t even featured on the top 10 list. The chart also includes two authentic German brands, Volkswagen, which gained +7.8 points as compared to 2010, and its rival Audi. The research group has also unveiled the YouGov BrandIndex list of top German performers in 2011, where Canon scored 91 points out of 100, Nivea and Ritter Sport (which also turns 100 this year and took the 10th position on the buzz chart) earned 89 points, and Michelin along with Audi scored 88.
The YouGov BrandIndex Buzz Rankings for 2011 also unveiled the top brand by the industry and the audience. For instance, in the U.S. Ford (35.4) topped the auto chart, Levi’s (26.4) became the #1 apparel brand, and the healthy drink option V8 got on the first position in the Beverages and Snacks category. As to the respondents, the LGBT community loved YouTube most of all (obviously, for its contribution to the It Gets Better initiative), while parents gave the most positive feedback to Subway’s activities. In the UK, Dove became the #1 brand in the Health&Beauty segment, the Innocent beverage ranked the highest on the Soft Drinks, and Coca-Cola did the same on the Carbonated Drinks chart.
Positive buzz eventually results in profits, and negative talks drive to loss, so these charts may come as a prediction of which brands will do well this year. Still, everything can be changed within a few days or even hours—just one wrong move, one ill-considered word, one poor campaign, and you fail. Brands, be wise. Public is watching you.