These Are the Brands Considered Most “Relevant” by Americans in 2018

September 19, 2018

The first two companies to hit a $1 trillion valuation are also the most relevant brands in the US. So finds Prophet’s latest Brand Relevance Index, which measures brands across 4 characteristics generally shared by the most relevant: customer obsession; ruthless pragmatism; distinctive inspiration; and pervasive innovation.

Those shared traits add up to make brands that consumers can’t live without, per the report, which surveyed 12,694 customers in the US about 299 brands across 37 industries. While actual sales don’t figure as a metric used to determine how indispensable brands are consumers, brands were chosen for analysis according to their contribution to US household spending. Within each industry, companies with outsized growth, as well as smaller ones driving change, were included.

The 5 Most Relevant Brands

Score one for the first company to hit a $1 trillion valuation. Apple emerged as the most relevant brand to consumers in the US for the third year running. Apple achieved high scores across all of the characteristics measured.

Another measure of its relevance? Almost one-third of teens talk about Apple-owned brands every day, according to recent research.

Following Apple in the rankings is the other company that briefly hit a $1 trillion valuation: Amazon. The e-commerce behemoth moved up a spot from last year, overtaking Google (which fell to 6th). As with Apple, Amazon maintained high rankings across each of the components of consumer relevance. It scored particularly well for pragmatism, including statements such as “Is available when and where I need it,” and “Makes my life easier.”

Also moving up the charts this year is Pinterest, which is up two spots to the third-most relevant brand. Pinterest didn’t score quite as highly on the “Ruthlessly Pragmatic” component. However, it was the top brand overall for the “Distinctively Inspired” category, which measures the brands that inspire people by making emotional connections and earning trust. Pinterest led all brands in its score on this particular category.

Pinterest can also hang its hat on being the only social network in the top 50 brands by consumer relevance (unless Spotify, at #9, could be considered a social network).

Rounding out the top 5 were Netflix – which topped all brands for the “customer obsessed” category – and Android, a new entrant to the top 5.

Differences Among Demographic Groups

Not everyone is in agreement about those top 5, however. Men placed Apple and Amazon as their top 2 in that order (consistent with last year), but then followed with PlayStation, Spotify, and Samsung.

For women, Apple topped the list (up a spot from last year), followed by Netflix, Pinterest, Amazon and Android.

Youth consider Netflix to be their default source of video content – and unsurprisingly also a relevant one. Netflix led all brands in the Relevance Index among Millennials, followed by Amazon, KitchenAid (?!), Apple and Google. For non-Millennials, Apple was tops, ahead of Amazon, Pinterest, Android and Netflix.

Industry Leaders

Below, the top-ranking brand from select industries:

  • Airlines: Southwest (as it was the past 2 years);
  • Automotive: Toyota, as with last year;
  • Grocery and Drug Stores: Trader Joe’s, again;
  • Hospitality: Marriott, again;
  • Media: Netflix, again;
  • Restaurants: Chick-fil-A, taking over from Starbucks;
  • Retail: Amazon, again;
  • Social Media & Internet Services: Pinterest; and
  • Telecommunications: Verizon, again.

Finally, sharing economy brands Airbnb (+56 to #99) and Lyft (+79 to #55) were among the brands with the biggest improvements in rank this year.

Meanwhile, Facebook (-102 spots to #205) had the most precipitous fall, though it can find some comfort in the fact that Snapchat was close behind, falling 87 spots to #197. Then again, it can’t hang its hat on Instagram, which also dropped 72 positions to #131. Well, at least they have Pinterest to aspire to!

The full report, including further details about methodology and the top brands, can be accessed here.

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