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How to build customer loyalty worldwide

8th February 2013


In a recent study, global communications firm APCO Worldwide has highlighted 50 companies that it calls “Champion Brands”, brands it claims are best meeting stakeholder expectations, are truly engaging customers; are authentic and are adding value to society.

The way that brands build loyalty with their customers and stakeholders has changed dramatically in the last 25 years says James Acheson-Gray, managing director of APCO Worldwide's London office: “We have witnessed a fundamental shift in the balance of power between companies and their stakeholders. With the internet and social media, brands no longer have full control of messages or their reputations; as power has shifted into the hands of their stakeholders.

“This evolved landscape enables stakeholders to demand more transparency and expect companies to share responsibility in a world with finite resources, where governments do less and companies are expected to do more.”

So what is the secret to becoming a successful global brand? Acheson-Gray says that great brands must manifest their brand strategy in every aspect of their business, from employee policies to their packaging, and importantly, adds Acheson-Gray, to succeed in this era of increased expectations and greater influence of stakeholders, “great brands recognise that they first need to be champions for their stakeholders before those stakeholders will champion them.”

The study also identified 30 key brands that operate only in a few countries. One shining example is the Whole Foods Market, a supermarket chain based in the US, which sells natural and organic products. This got top marks in the study for the way it meets its stakeholder expectations. Acheson-Gray explains: “The Whole Foods brand has always been about sustainability and it has built its business model to successfully balance the needs of its employees, customers, communities and stakeholders. It isn’t just selling lush produce and fine cuts of meat, it is selling a brand that speaks to hearts and soothes minds.”

The Index Rankings
 

Below are the top 50 Global Champion Brands the study identified, in alphabetical order:

3M

Adobe Systems

Amazon.com

Apple

Bayer Group

BMW Group

Canon

Caterpillar

Coca-Cola

Colgate-Palmolive

Costco Wholesale

Deere & Co

Dell

Discovery Communications

Disney

Ford Motors

Google

Hershey

Hewlett-Packard

HJ Heinz

Home Depot

Honda Motor

HTC

IBM

IKEA

Intel

Johnson & Johnson

Kellogg

Levi Strauss & Co

LG

MasterCard

Michelin Group

Microsoft

Nestlé

NIKE

Panasonic

PepsiCo

Philips

Procter & Gamble

Samsung

SC Johnson & Son

Sharp

Siemens

Sony Mobile

Stanley Black & Decker

Toyota Group

Visa

Volkswagen Group

Whirlpool

Yahoo

Background
 

The study, conducted by APCO’s research consultancy APCO Insight, surveyed more than 70,000 people in 15 countries. The study measures how companies perform against these four “A” criteria:

Alignment: meeting stakeholders’ most important expectations.

Authenticity: acting in a way that is consistent with what a company says.

Attachment: the extent to which stakeholders connect emotionally with a company.

Advocacy: advocating on behalf of stakeholders’ interests, applying unique expertise and assets to add value to society.



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