Brand equity driven by value

Brand equity does not lose potency when money is tight, according to the latest EquiTrend study by Harris Interactive, which measures 1,000 brands across 39 categories .

Comfort foods and staples won the highest brand equity scores in parameters such as brand familiarity, quality and purchase consideration in the survey-based study of 1,202 brands by 24,446 U.S. consumers conducted in March and April of this year. The study also includes a new measure on the value consumers feel they receive from a brand for the money they pay, a reflection of the economy.

Top brands were M&M's plain chocolate candy; Hershey's Kisses; Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; Hershey's Milk Chocolate Candy Bars; Kleenex; Campbell's Soups; Google, M&M's Peanut Chocolate Candy; and Crayola Crayons. The top brands in various market segments are a panoply of premium, niche and mass-market brands, including Honda for automobiles; Subway for fast foods; KitchenAid for appliances; Coca-Cola for beverages; Microsoft for software; Sony for consumer electronics; Southwest for airlines; and Grey Goose for spirits.

At the bottom of the list were brands tainted by the perception of moral turpitude around health and fiscal malfeasance. Tobacco and financial service brands, particularly AIG, joined the ranks of these weaker brands on the bottom.

Wes Brown, analyst with Iceology in Los Angeles, says the variability of brand loyalty in a down economy depends on the product category, reports Media Post. "Logically, a large part of the population in times like this would be willing to forgo loyalty and ultimately get the cheapest thing out there," he says. "But it will be category-specific. What's a bag of M&M's cost? If that's your one indulgence, how much will that cost you?" Brown also points out that loyalty driven by value isn't about price. "People stick with what they know -- so if my money is important, do I buy something I haven't used and am not too sure about and that might be cheaper, but perhaps not as good? Maybe I'm saving four or five or ten bucks, but rather than sticking with what I know, that works, I'm taking a chance." Likewise, he says, the value of indulgence products like confection is not merely about price. "It's something you choose to reward yourself with, so you are going to buy what you like because, 'Screw it, everything else in my life may suck so why get rid of the one thing I like?'"