These Brands Enjoyed the Best Word-of-Mouth in 2018

January 28, 2019

Step aside, Amazon. YouGov BrandIndex has released its brand buzz report covering 2018 in the US, and streaming service Netflix has stolen the top spot from Amazon, which previously had a five-year streak at the top of the charts.

The study measures the consumer perception of brands by asking first whether they have heard of the brand at some point during the past 2 weeks, and in an approach similar to Net Promoter Score, then subtracts the percentage who report they have heard something negative from the proportion who have heard positive comments.

Netflix came second in last year’s rankings with a net positive score of 31.5, but has now risen by 1.5 points year-over-year to a high score of 33. By contrast, saw its score drop from 33.3 to 29.3, and in the process ceded the crown to the on-demand viewing platform. That being said, it has an enviable position as the only company with 2 brands in the top 10, as Amazon Prime comes third with a net positive score of 28.

While consumer sentiment towards Amazon may be dipping slightly, Netflix has been enjoying a strong run as it becomes more and more synonymous with TV. It has been lauded for the simplicity of its experience, is the second-ranking brand for customer advocacy, and is also in the top 5 for customer loyalty. (Not surprisingly, Amazon is in the mix for those accolades, too.)

Meanwhile, the 4th spot in YouGov’s latest rankings goes to Samsung, which made a new entrance in 2018 with a Buzz score of 22.3, and was also the 3rd most improved brand (up by 5.2 points). This year has seen Google drop out of the top 10 rankings, but YouTube remains, coming 5th with 22 points, down from 26.5 and 4th place last year.

Dawn (#6) and M&M’s (#8) remain on the coveted leaderboard, with Toyota (#7), Home Depot (#9) and Chick-fil-A (#10) being the other new entrants – taking places from Nike, Apple and its iPhone.

Going beyond the top 10, the top improvers across all categories were:

  • United – up 9.6 points to a net negative 3.5;
  • Ring (the video doorbell owned by Amazon) – up 6.0 to a score of 11.3;
  • Samsung – up by 5.2 points to 22.3, and hitting the top 10 in the process; and
  • American Airlines – up 4.1 to an overall net positive score of 2.9.

Other noteworthy brands in the improver category were Uber, Pepsi, Hulu, Goldman Sachs and Target.

Category Leaders

Below are some quick highlights (limited to the US) of brands topping various (but not all) category lists:

  • Despite a dip in Buzz score, Southwest (8.7) led among Airlines yet again, with second-placed JetBlue (4.5) again trailing distantly in second;
  • Nike (16.9) was once again the leader in the Apparel and Footwear category, followed again by Skechers (14.9), with the gap closing a little from 2017;
  • T-Mobile (12.8) maintained the slightest edge on Verizon Wireless (12.7) in the Big 4 Wireless category;
  • Chase (8.4) extended its lead a little over Capital One Bank (7.6) in the rankings for Banks;
  • GEICO (16.0) once again beat State Farm (14.6) by a relatively small margin in the Insurance category;
  • Google’s winning Buzz Score of 16.2 in the Internet Search category was miles ahead of Yahoo (5.5), its nearest competitor, but Google’s top score in the category was down quite considerably from 23.7 the previous year;
  • Facebook didn’t even crack the top 5 social networks in 2018, with YouTube taking top honors ahead of Pinterest (13.9) and Instagram (11.9);
  • Netflix (32) and YouTube (22) far surpassed the competition in the Streaming Video and Music category again, while Hulu (16.4) remained in 3rd and Amazon Video fell out of the top 5; and
  • The History Channel (15.5) took top honors among TV Networks once more, followed by the Discovery Channel (14.1) and Food Network (12.5), which moved ahead of HBO (12).

The full rankings can be accessed here.

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