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Quilted Northern wipes competition in brand study


Longstanding household brand names Quilted Northern, Jockey and Dawn are doing something right, namely, employing a mix of traditional and digital marketing strategies which enabled them to outshine trendsetting technology brands, according to Landor’s 2013 Breakaway Brands Study.

Amazon was the only brand born in the digital era to make the top 10, along with its Kindle sub-brand. Apple fell off the list entirely.

Global strategic brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates conducts the annual study, which Landor touts as the only report ranking U.S. brands based on successfully sustaining growth in brand strength throughout a three-year period (2009-2012). The study analyzes data from Young & Rubicam Group’s proprietary BrandAsset Valuator (BAV), the world’s largest database of consumer brand perception.

“Venerable household brands topped this year’s list through excellence in classic marketing strategies that have powered winning brands for decades,” said Mich Bergesen, global director of financial services at Landor, who led the research study. “They certainly included 21st-century tactics like digital and social in the execution, but it was smart, fundamental market strategy built on these brands’ core strengths that made the difference.”

Key elements that were responsible for helping brands sustain long-term growth according to the report include:

• Insightful market research: At the top of Landor’s Breakaway Brands list, Quilted Northern began its road to success in 2008 when the brand launched its 3-ply Ultra Plush toilet paper in response to market research that showed that affluent women older than 45 years of age were willing to pay more for cleanliness. Its scores jumped more than 1000% between 2009 and 2012.

• Smart innovation and product extensions. Breakaway Brands #2 ranked Jockey introduced its Staycool technology and the antimicrobial Jockey Sport line. Dixie (#7) expanded beyond paper cups to a super strong line of disposable products called Dixie Ultra. Febreze (#6) launched Febreze Sport and Febreze Sleep Serenity. While it was once just a burritos and taquitos line, Jose Ole (#8) now offers almost everything you’d find in a Mexican restaurant. The oldest brand on the list, Thomas’ (#9), known for its English muffin, now makes bagel thins and pitas. Lego (#10) targeted girls with its Lego Friends line.

• Demonstrating social responsibility. In the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Dawn (#3) used its soap to clean affected animals. This year, it used TV advertising and launched a series of YouTube videos about how Dawn is used in oil cleanup efforts that featured Rob Lowe’s narration and compelling footage of animals — winning over the hearts of more consumers.

• Targeted engagement. Amazon’s (#4) Amazon Prime program delivers highly relevant and valuable perks to repeat customers. Jockey’s Twitter campaign encourages users to hashtag their workout updates with #everydayathlete.

“Landor’s annual Breakaway Brands Study continues to provide a unique perspective into sustainable brand strength by analyzing brand health throughout a three-year period," added Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer. "Customer interaction and personal involvement with a brand and its products remains the most compelling determinant of real brand power. Brands that truly understand their customers’ needs and satisfy them in distinctive and engaging ways win big and win consistently, as this year’s study again bears out.”

In addition to the 10 breakaway brands, Landor chose five brands for its 2013 “Watch List.” Included are last year’s ranked Breakaway Brands Apple and Keurig, in addition to Reynolds Wrap, Microsoft Windows and Ford Sync. The “Watch List” brands have shown exceptional brand strength in the past years, but Landor warns they now face uncertainty in the long-term according to the data they reviewed.

The Apple iPhone remains the most desired smartphone in the market. However, as new Android handsets continue to hit that market, it is unclear whether Apple’s consumers will remain loyal. With the announcement of iOS 7 and the new iPhones, there is a chance Apple can correct its slowing iPhone ownership and global market share slide.

With the expiration of K-Cup patents, Keurig’s leadership in the market is uncertain despite its strong partnerships with Green Mountain, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Its ability to survive amid a sea of me-too competitors will dictate the brand’s long-term potential.

Brand strength is determined using three years of consumer survey data from the BrandAsset Valuator U.S. database. Landor analyzed data for approximately 2,500 brands across industries, based on interviews with more than 15,000 consumers annually, evaluating against 48 different measures of brand health. By comparing brand performance on key measures that drive consumer preference and choice — specifically, the brand’s differentiation (including its distinctiveness, innovation, and dynamism) — and the brand’s relevance (how appropriate it is to a consumer’s life), Landor identifies those brands that increased their scores most dramatically. When a brand grew significantly on both measures (an indication of true brand strength) and these numbers were sustained throughout the three-year period, they became candidates for the Breakaway Brands list.

Later, Landor partnered with students from Wake Forest University’s School of Business to conduct secondary research on key actions undertaken by brand owners to enhance performance and identify the strategies and initiatives employed to sustain brand growth throughout three years. The selected finalists are therefore not necessarily the biggest brands, but brands that proactively built brand strength most consistently over time.

With more than 20 years of consumer data, BAV is the world’s largest and most enduring study of brands. Polling consumers in the United States on a quarterly basis for their perceptions of brands, it identifies and analyzes brand strength and trends based on four pillars of brand building: differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge.

To date, BAV tracks brands in more than 51 countries, covers some 50,000 brands, has conducted interviews with more than 750,000 consumers and includes dozens of brand metrics and attitudinal questions. BAV is part of Young & Rubicam Group, a partnership of companies that includes Landor.

With 25 offices in 19 countries, Landor’s current and past clients include Barclays, the Council on Foreign Relations, Diageo, FedEx Hilton Hotels, Jet Airways, Microsoft, MillerCoors, Procter & Gamble, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and Verizon.

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