2022’s Relevance Report: What Brands Can Learn From Apple, Peloton, Spotify and Bose
This year’s index uncovers important shifts, including a need for self-care, DIY swagger and a little escapism.
Prophet just released the 2022 Brand Relevance Index® (BRI), and boy, has it changed the way we look at the constellation of brands that dominate our culture. Of course, relevance is always a moving target. But this year’s BRI–our seventh–proves how quickly brands can gain and lose favor. As we sifted through the latest findings, a new pattern of relevance emerged. The best brands are increasingly finding success in our new normal by the way they connect with us as humans.
Some go straight for the heart, resonating with us emotionally. Others appeal to the head, drawing us in with practical benefits. And an elite few do both. These relentlessly relevant all-stars take the top three spaces in our Index this year, led by Apple, coming in #1 for the seventh straight time. Peloton ranks #2, followed by Spotify at #3. While Peloton and Spotify have been in the news recently for a number of reasons, it’s clear that loyal consumers continue to stand by their favorite brands. Bose and Android come next, with Instant Pot, PlayStation, Fitbit, TED and USAA rounding out the top 10.
Certainly, many brands gained influence in our lives because of pandemic-related changes, as U.S. consumers continue to find new ways of working and learning. An astonishing 23 of the top 25, for instance, are brands primarily used in the home (Don’t worry, there are also encouraging signs that we’re headed out of hibernation, with travel and hospitality brands perking up nicely).
Our research is based on the same foundations we’ve used since we started dissecting relevance in 2015. We asked more than 13,500 U.S. consumers about four key drivers and attributes of relevance. But this year, we filtered these responses through two additional lenses. We asked, “How are brands appealing to the head?” and “How are brands speaking to the heart?” Through this approach, we uncovered important lessons for brands looking to become more indispensable to their audiences.
Brands that appeal primarily to our heads are the ultimate problems solvers. These rely on ruthless pragmatism and pervasive innovation, two core drivers of relevance. And they have become more relevant as the pandemic wears on, with consumers looking to become more self-reliant.
“The best brands are increasingly finding success in our new normal by the way they connect with us as humans.”
These brands are competent and dependable. Led by companies like Bose (#4), Instant Pot (#6) and KitchenAid (#18), they reassure us that they’ll keep life running smoothly, no matter what.
Next, we have the brands that speak to the heart. These are driven by customer obsession and distinctive inspiration. It’s the kind of passion that turns consumers into passionate evangelists. That can only happen by making sure each brand experience makes consumers feel good about themselves, whether drenching them in sweat, like Peloton, or filling them with smiles, like Pixar (#17).
Our relentlessly relevant all-stars do it all, pulling our heartstrings even as they shine in every aspect of execution. Think of how brands like Apple, Spotify, and Android connect us to our work and the world. These all-star brands help us fulfill our goals to find happiness and strength.
How Brands Can Increase Relevance
No matter where they landed on this year’s Index, we think any brand can get closer to their customers, following the trends we’ve uncovered. Some clear steps toward building more relevance:
Build tech that’s more human – Apple, Peloton, Spotify and Android prove that when tech is personalized and helps us connect human-to-human, it resonates. Whether we are communicating directly through messages and social media, joining a new community or discovering new voices, these brands give us the power to express ourselves through technology.
Enable self-care – In an anxious age, Calm, #12, the app for sleep and meditation, scored highest of all 293 brands we studied on the “Connects with me emotionally” ranking. Despite its production problems and falling revenues, Peloton continues to earn adoration because it makes people happy. And Fitbit provides a gentle push towards better health.
Back promises with performance – More time at home means people are closer to machinery all the time, with reliability becoming more important. (If it takes months to get our hands on a new appliance, who wants to fool around with something second-best?). Besides Instant Pot and KitchenAid, Dyson (#19), Whirlpool (#45) and Keurig (#34) also made impressive showings precisely because consumers see them as better than their competitors.
Encourage autonomy – Nothing feels as good as DIY confidence, whether air-frying a chicken or filing taxes. Financial brands did well as a result, including Afterpay (#11), a financing service for online transactions, TurboTax (#46) and Zelle (#39). Highly digital and customizable, these offerings put more control in the hands of the user with ease and reliability.
Make magic – People are still eager for brands they can access from home, even as the pandemic drags into its third year. They want to escape, and content creators made up a considerable portion of our top performers this year. Marvel (#14) and Pixar (#17) outpaced even Netflix (#29), coming in first and third respectively for the attribute “Makes me Happy.” Gaming platforms such as PlayStation (#7), Nintendo (#23), and Xbox (#35) also took on outsized importance in daily life.
Emphasize authenticity – Social and technology platforms that encouraged people to strut their stuff also did well. From Etsy (#24) and Pinterest (#41) to YouTube (#70) and TikTok (#144), watching people “Create” online–whether they’re dancing, knitting or interviewing Noodles the Pug–does more than entertain. These platforms democratize the way people can create, sharing joy and inspiration with others.
Whatever tomorrow brings, we can be sure that brands will play a huge role in our lives. To achieve uncommon growth, brands will have to provide a must-have service while delivering experiences that make us feel alive. What are the most relevant brands in your lives right now?
Want to learn more about how the most relevant brands are tapping into the head and heart of consumers? The Prophet BRI serves as a roadmap for building relevance with consumers. Contact our team to learn how to apply the insights from the 2022 Index to your organization.