The folks at YouGovPoliMetrix recently fielded a survey – the BrandIndex survey – to research the effect the economy is having on consumer perceptions of brand value. The data were collected between Sept 1 and Oct 27, and Ad Week reported on the results in its Nov 4 issue.
The survey found that the five brands with the highest perceived value right now are: Craftsman, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Google and Rubbermaid. Brands with the worst perceived value today are: MTV, Hummer, Red Bull, AIG and Abercrombie & Fitch. Additionally, the survey found that over the past two months, brand value perception scores have increased for Microsoft, Starbucks, Verizon Wireless, Folgers, and Bath and Body Works, while they decreased for AIG, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Foot Locker and Merrill Lynch.
Here are my takeaways from a review of the brands consumers perceive as the best and worst in terms of brand value right now:
- Conspicuous consumption is out; self improvement and DIY are in
- Value doesn’t mean cheap, but the price better be justified
- Management's track record matters
- Familiar, tried and true brands are reassuring in these uncertain times
- Consumers are paying attention to advertising
Our own category research at Brand Amplitude over the past year has shown consistently that consumers perceived Lowe’s as better than Home Depot on every dimension we asked about. From selection to knowledgeable advice and friendliness of service to speed at check out to the number of sales people on the selling floor to store layout to price to value, Lowe’s beats Home Depot, hand’s down.
I’ve written before about Home Depot’s challenges. Though the company scores well for consistency across customer touchpoints, our research shows that its messaging misses the mark. They don’t deliver on their “You can do it, we can help” tagline. And as outlined above, they fall short on multiple aspects of the customer experience compared to Lowe's.
The housing slump has hurt home improvement centers hard, and both Home Depot and Lowe’s have scaled back expansion plans in light of the soft economy. Given Lowe’s huge perceptual advantage, it makes sense that the company is not confining itself to a value message right now. Instead, Lowe’s just announced that it plans to tout its in-store shopping experience to drive consumers to its stores this holiday season. Smart move!