Firms topping “brand intimacy” charts outpace Fortune 500, S&P 500 returns

Published on February 27, 2019

With blockbuster after blockbuster — soon to be topped off with the new Avengers: Endgame — it’s no surprise Disney is one of the leading companies today. Disney’s product “stickiness” tells a story of brand intimacy, a term used to describe consumer loyalty to a particular name.

What might come as a surprise is that Disney overtook Apple in the 2019 Brand Intimacy study by MBLM.

Brand intimacy for the uninitiated

MBLM is an organization most famous for its brand intimacy studies. These studies rank brands according to how well they build an emotional connection. This means that a brand which makes you feel stronger is going to be at a higher ranking. Of course, it’s not hard to see why such a nostalgic brand like Disney ranks so high.  Recently, due to commercial failure, Apple has fallen down the rankings a bit although it still remains one of the top contenders.

What does the latest data show?

An important takeaway is that brands that perform better, according to intimacy metrics, actually grow faster than those measured against the benchmark Fortune 500 and S&P 500 list of publicly traded companies.

A quick comparison of revenue growth from 2008 to 2017 demonstrates the principle for now. Top intimate brands grew by 8.58%, while Fortune 500 and S&P top brands only got 3.66% and 4.75%.  The statistic means that the revenue growth by top intimate brands is over twice of that of the top Fortune 500 companies.

When it comes to profit growth, the discrepancy is further exemplified. Average profits rose by 44.98% among companies with the most Brand Intimacy. Opposing that, average profits for Fortune 500 and S&P companies rose by 20.45% and 6.37%.

The data could mean that brand intimacy metrics are more than twice as effective as the Fortune 500 at predicting underlying brand appreciation. Publicly traded companies, as a basket of bellwether stocks in the S&P 500 fared worse. Publicly traded companies topping the brand intimacy charts outpaced the S&P 500 by a factor of eight.

Why the discrepancy?

The reasons for why brand intimacy performs so well are best put by Mario Natarelli, a managing partner at MBLM:

“We know that customers who form strong emotional bonds with brands are willing to pay more and are less willing to live without them. Insights from our annual ranking of brands are providing lessons and new strategies for business leaders and marketers,”

In today’s business world, it seems like your customer’s emotions should be your first priority.  MBLM has made a new kind of marketing, one which focuses on emotion. The marketing approach they take is one where rather than maximizing just your product quality, you also maximize your customer’s attachment to it.

What else did the study show?

MBLM’s brand intimacy study has also provided some other useful data for market analysts.

The top three industries according to brand intimacy are media and entertainment, automotive and technology and telecommunications.  It revealed that there’s a difference in brand intimacy between different age groups.

Millennials, the generation reaching adulthood after the year 2000, listed YouTube as their top brand. Older generations opted for Amazon instead.

The West favors on smartphones quite a bit.  But even in a non-US focused study that analyzed the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, Apple was the most intimate brand.

Comprehensive studies like these are the beginning of a new shift in business. Not to overstate early results however promising, we might need future studies to determine if this is just a temporary market shift or a hint at the trends to come.

Ilija Miljkovac is a former staff writer at Grit Daily. He is based in London, United Kingdom.

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