Customer loyalty is increasingly a marker for success, especially as brands compete for market share and look for ways to grow and maintain a loyal customer base. Given the influence of social media, engendering loyalty becomes all the more important for brands because they can be impacted by positive recommendations or negative comments shared among consumers.
That makes a new research report, the 2012 Temkin Loyalty Ratings, particularly interesting. Based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012, the research examines consumer loyalty to 206 large companies across 18 industries.
The Loyalty Ratings survey took into account three components of loyalty:
- Likelihood of consumers to recommend companies
- Reluctance of consumers to switch business away from companies
- Willingness of consumers to purchase additional products and services from companies.
The top three industries in terms of loyalty were grocery chains, retailers, and fast food chains. Last in the ratings were TV service providers and Internet service providers. Banks and credit card issuers appear in six of the bottom nine spots in the ratings.
Sam's Club was the highest rated brand for customer loyalty out of the 206 companies. Aldi, USAA, Publix, and Amazon rounded out the top five brands with the highest customer loyalty. Last on the list were HSBC, Bank of America, Citigroup, Citibank, and Charter Communications.
The research also looks at the relative loyalty rating of companies relative to their industry peers. USAA has the highest level of consumer loyalty across three industries: It is more than 26 percentage points ahead of other banks and credit card issuers, and 17 points ahead of other insurers. Southwest Airlines outpaces all other airlines by a significant margin. Apple is far and away the leader in the computer category, American Express in credit cards, and Hampton Inn in hotels.
Low customer loyalty seems to be widespread among banks and credit card companies. Bank of America, Citibank, and HSBC are all 15 or more percentage points below their industry loyalty average. Days Inn (hotels), Radio Shack (retail) and Charter Communications (TV service) are also well below average in their respective industries. According to the report, airlines, hotel chains, and retailers declined in consumer loyalty from 2011 to 2012.
Report author Bruce Temkin says the research suggests "that loyalty is up for grabs across many industries." Formerly a VP at Forrester Research, Temkin founded Temkin Group, now a leading customer experience research and consulting firm and writes the popular blog, Customer Experience Matters.