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In a ranking of how brands resonate with consumers on an intimate and emotional level, apparel companies are lagging behind other sectors such as automotive, retail, consumer goods, technology and banks, according to the latest MBLM Brand Intimacy 2017 Report.

Why is brand intimacy important? Because the researchers of the report noted that the top-ranked intimate brands “continued to outperform S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years.” Heading the list this year is Apple, which is followed by Disney and Amazon. MBLM defines brand intimacy “as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.”

The other top brands were: Harley Davidson, Netflix, Nintendo, Samsung, Whole Foods, BMW and Toyota.

brand report

Apple topped the list of most intimate brands. 

“Escapist brands (largely within media and entertainment) did extremely well this year,” the analysts said in the report. “From Netflix and Nintendo to Xbox and HBO, consumers seem to connect strongly with brands that let them entertain themselves on demand.”

The apparel sector had a brand intimacy quotient score of 27.9, which compares to an average of 28.7 of the 15 industries analyzed. The retail sector had a score of 43.3. The apparel brands with the highest intimacy score were: Levi’s with a 49.2, Nike with a 47.5 and Lululemon Athletica with a 37.8.

The researchers explained that if top S&P and Fortune 500 brands performed at the same growth rate as the top intimate brands, “an average S&P company would have earned an additional $7.7 billion in revenue and $5.3 billion in profit. An average Fortune 500 company would have generated an additional $20.3 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in profit.”

Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, said his firm’s report “once again reveals that the bonds created between a brand and a consumer deliver greater economic growth.”

“Brand growth starts and ends with emotion and the quantity, quality and character of the bonds formed with customers,” Natarelli noted. “We found that escapist brands performed especially well — mostly in the media and entertainment industry — due to the melancholy mood of the past year and the need for distraction, control and enjoyment.” That included brands such as Netflix.

“Netflix is the new Amazon,” Natarelli said. “The brand, which ranked 25th in our previous study, has quickly risen to this year’s top five and we believe still has untapped potential.”

The report involved responses from 6,000 consumers and 54,000 “brand evaluations.” The company noted that the findings in the report showed that “Apple is the highest-rated brand across several considerations. It scored highest for enhancement, ritual, identity and frequency of use. It also ranked [number one] for can’t live without, meaning it would be difficult to live without this brand.”

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