Krispy Kreme Serves Americans’ Favorite Coffee—Harris EQ Study


Krispy Kreme coffee and doughnut
The best coffee chain in the U.S., as determined by more than 77,000 participants for the Harris Poll’s 30th annual EquiTrend Study, isn’t Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, but Krispy Kreme—which wins points with customers for regularly handing out free donuts.

This year, 80 brands were named #1 in their category; a sampling:

Department store: Kohl’s
Luxury department store: Nordstrom
Hardware & home: The Home Depot
Shoes: DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse)
Sporting goods: DICK’S

Economy: Microtel
Mid-market: Hampton Inn & Suites
Upscale: Courtyard by Marriott
Premium: Marriott
Luxury: Four Seasons

Consumer goods:
Coffee maker: Keurig
Digital camera: Canon
Major appliances: KitchenAid

Luxury: Lexus
Full line: Honda

Auto shopping: Kelley Blue Book (
Job search: Indeed
Home search: Zillow
Travel service: TripAdvisor
Social network: YouTube

Mobile payment: PayPal
National bank: Capital One
Online bank: Barclays
Regional bank: BB&T
Credit card: Visa
Investing: The Vanguard Group

Life: AXA
Multi-line: AAA
Property & casual: GEICO

Digital entertainment:
Car audio: Bose
Streaming audio: Pandora
Streaming video: Netflix

General: PBS
Pay cable: HBO
News: The Weather Channel
Factual: History Channel
Sports: ESPN
Entertainment: AMC
Kids: Disney Junior

Full service: Hawaiian Airlines
Value: Southwest Airlines

Hamburger: Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Pizza: Blaze Pizza
Chicken: Chick-fil-A
Mexican: Taco Bell
Sandwich: Panera and Subway (tie)
Casual: The Cheesecake Factory and Texas Roadhouse (tie)
Coffee: Krispy Kreme
Ice Cream: Ben & Jerry’s

Computer manufacturer: Microsoft
Printer: HP
Smartphone: Apple iPhone
Smartwatch: Asus ZenWatch
Tablet: Apple iPad
Virtual Personal assistant: Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri (tie)

Car rentals: Enterprise
Delivery: UPS
Real estate: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Wireless carrier: Verizon Wireless

Measuring brand health over time, the EquiTrend Brand Equity Index is comprised of three factors – Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration – that result in a brand equity rating for each brand. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend “Brand of the Year” award for their respective categories. This year, more than 77,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 3,000 brands across more than 300 categories.

This year’s EQ study reflected an emerging trend in consumer behavior – the push to simplify and align with brands they know and trust. The common thread in the 2018 EQ study is waning familiarity strength among consumers. While the overall EQ study score average is stable overall, one-quarter of brands measured in 2017 showed a significant decline in EQ scores. The decline reveals that consumers are becoming less connected to a large set of brands and more connected to a smaller, select set of brands, marked by decreasing brand awareness and quality perception in this year’s study.

While many of these brands are mainstays with strong equity as a whole, it seems that in the social age of waning attention spans and the fast pace of new products, consumers are turning inward and focusing on select brands they know and trust. Only 10% of brands saw a significant increase in equity from 2017.

“The EQ study reveals that brand equity is no longer guaranteed by size or media impressions,” stated The Harris Poll CEO, John Gerzema. “This is actually a time when being ‘big’ is code for being the establishment. As private label and the popularity of craft products rises, brands are now differentiated on their values, personal connection and their ability to build community.”