The Brand Experience Index
Marketers that fail to address brand experience will see loyalty drop.
Customer experience may be high on the agenda but many brands are neglecting to look at the brand experience as a whole. This lack of a holistic approach is impacting consumer loyalty, new research finds.
So we set out to create a way to measure a brand's experience as a whole. The Brand Experience Index aims to think holistically about how a customer interacts with a brand, ranging from the emotional effect they deliver to the sense of social identity they create among customers.
We started with research. Building on the key points outlined in a 2009 academic paper published in the Journal of Marketing entitled Brand Experience: What is it? Using this research, we identified five core facets of brand experience that have a direct impact on customer loyalty.
These include ‘Think’, which refers to a brand’s ability to communicate its purpose; ‘Sense’, where a brand engages customers through the five senses using immersive experiences; ‘Feel’, which involves creating emotional impact; ‘Do’, whereby a brand facilitates behaviours and solves problems for consumers; and ‘Connect’, which involves inspiring a sense of belonging.
A brand should be thinking about all five areas if it wants to create a deep connection with customers.
We then spoke directly to consumers. Conducting a survey of 2,000 UK adults to gauge their views on 30 preselected brands across the retail, telecommunications and airline sectors. Around 200 participants were allocated to each brand on the basis of recent interactions with them.
We asked them to rate the brands according to the five facets using a seven-point scale. We then created the first Brand Experience Index with the results, with 140 being the highest possible score and 20 the lowest.
Top brands for experience
Singapore Airlines tops the ranking with 96 points, followed by Lycamobile (94 points), giffgaff (92 points), Ikea (91 points) and Emirates (90 points). Ryanair comes bottom of the index (66 points), while TalkTalk (67 points), BT (68 points) and EE (71 points) also perform poorly.
The report discovered Singapore Airlines’ performance is down to its strong showing across the five facets. For example, the brand’s score for the ‘Think’ metric is 20% higher than all other airlines in the study. We believe their commitment to service over the past 40 years, is key to establishing a clear brand purpose in the minds of the customers.
The airline’s score for ‘Connect’ is 17% higher than the sector average – a result partly attributed to the quality of the brand’s frequent-flyer programme. It's also rated 18% higher for ‘Do’, with the report praising the airline’s digital innovations such as an app that allows passengers to review, prepare and control their in-flight entertainment from their phone.
Laurence Parkes, our Chief Strategy Officer, argues that too many brands look exclusively at customer experience, rather than thinking more broadly about the overall brand experience. He puts it down to the fragmentation of marketing, with brands turning to different agencies to focus on different areas of the business. The experiential agency focusing on ‘Sense’, the ad agency looking at ‘Feel’ and ‘Think’ and the social agency looking at ‘Connect’ – all these separate teams aren't working collectively to pull those elements together in order to create a deep connection with customers.
In addition to the index, we asked respondents questions about the brands related to customer satisfaction, their first-choice preference and their advocacy for the brand based on the net promoter score (NPS) metric. And we discovered that for every 10-point increase in the Brand Experience Index, there is also a 13% increase in agreement with the statement ‘this brand will be my first choice in the future’ and a 9% increase in agreement with the statement ‘I will be loyal to this brand in the future’. A 10-point index rise also correlates to an 17-point increase in NPS.
It's important that brands think about the whole picture.
Our work with the BXi also incorporates a partnership with brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance that is aimed at exploring the effect of the index on the bottom-line value of a brand.
Although we're at an early stage, we're starting to see a correlation between its index scores and the brand value of low-cost airlines.
“[Brand Finance] postulates that a one-point increase in [the Brand Experience Index] score could lead to a business value increase of as much as $99m (£74m) in the case of Ryanair,” the report says.
The rising importance of brand experience is reflected by changes to the role of marketing within organisations. We’re witnessing the rise of the chief experience officer, who is becoming responsible for creating a cross-channel, cross-business brand experience. As these kinds of internal changes grow, so does the competition for the customer's attention, and we believe looking at the brand experience as a whole, holistic picture is they only to succeed.
The Brand Experience Index report went live in September 2016 and originally appeared in Marketing Week.