The 11 Brands With the Most Loyal Customers

Sam AdamsWhen it comes to shopping, there are products we'll buy based on price, and there are products we won't. That generic ketchup may be on sale for 30% less, but you're still probably going to put the bottle of Heinz in your cart.

It's called brand loyalty, and it's something every company that sells anything is striving to induce in its potential customers. Last week, research consultancy Brand Keys revealed which American companies do it best.

The 2012 Brand Keys report examines the customer loyalty and brand satisfaction of nearly 600 brands in 83 major product categories. Consumers surveyed were asked to rank the brands based on quality, level of enjoyment, ease of use, respectability, and other category-specific factors. Brand Keys gave each product an ideal score -- the highest rank a customer would be willing to give a product in that category. 24/7 Wall St. identified the 11 brands that received the highest scores relative to each product's ideal ranking.

Not all categories are created equal. Consumers have different expectations for different products: You give more scrutiny to your tablet computer than you do to your gasoline, for example. According to the study, people expect a great deal from things such as smartphones and luxury hotels. But they expect much less satisfaction from items like allergy medications, diet sodas and laundry detergents -- so those products start off with lower "ideal" scores.

Many of the brands that made our list are for products of the "lower expectations" variety, and the differences in the satisfaction scores among the brands in those categories are small, suggesting that customers perceive little difference between them. Instead, brand recognition appears to be the key factor -- and almost every brand in the top 11 is the market-share leader in its category.

But customers' higher expectations can be met and exceeded. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare video game franchise had among the highest product satisfaction scores of any product. Meanwhile, customers' expectations for video games are among the highest for any category. The major league gaming category had the tenth-highest ideal score out of the 83 categories.

- Michael B. Sauter, Ashley C. Allen

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