It’s a fair bet that lots of consumers are looking forward to this celebrating upcoming weekend. It’s the Fourth of July. Independence Day. A celebration of our battle for independence. A celebration of pride. And freedom. Accompanied by flag waving and patriotic music, picnics in town squares, parades and fireworks, and all varieties of red-white-and-blue decorations. A day off too. American consumers know how to throw a party, so what’s not to look forward to?
Marketers look forward to Independence Day too because it gives them an opportunity to “help” citizens celebrate. Brands cue the marching bands and majorettes, hire the Uncle Sam look-alikes, adopt red-white-and-blue leitmotifs, and generally look to squeeze as much of the patriotic emotions that symbolize America out of the holiday that they can. But while some of these tactics are in aid of the celebration of freedom and independence, most are simply in aid of, well, sales.
Too cynical for the 4th of July? Well, for today’s consumers, saying it, doing it, and doing it believably are three entirely different things, whether they have a 3-day weekend or not. So to determine which brands actually led when it comes to patriotism, Brand Keys did a statistical “drill-down” to identify which of this year’s list of 225 brands were more associated with the value of “patriotism.”
Statistical and face validity have shown that today, brand engagement is more emotional than it is rational, and while many emotional values drive engagement, and the study asked 4,680 consumers, ages 16 to 65, to evaluate a collection of 35 values, we focused on the value of “patriotism” to see which brands were more (or less) likely to get consumers to stand up and salute.
Today, when it comes to engaging consumers, waving an American flag and actually having an authentic foundation for being able to wave the flag are two entirely different things and the consumer knows it. More importantly, believability is key to the engagement paradigm. The more engaged a consumer is with a particular emotional value and the more they are able to associate the brand with that value, the more likely they’ll trust that emotion and act positively on that belief.
The ranking of the top-50 most patriotic brands, including ties, follow. The percentages indicate the emotional engagement strength for the individual value of ‘patriotism,’ versus an Ideal of 100%. Only the U.S. Armed Services – the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy – rated that high, and we take this opportunity to note that and also thank them for their service.
- Jeep (98%)
- Levi Strauss (97%)
- Coca-Cola (95%)
- Ford/Harley Davidson/
Ralph Lauren (91%)
- Apple/Gillette (90%)
- Hershey’s/Walmart (89%)
- Amazon (88%)
- New Balance (87%)
- A T&T/Google (86%)
Sam Adams (85%)
- Budweiser (84%)
- Louisville Slugger/ Smith & Wesson (83%)
- American Express/Coors (81%)
- John Deere/L.L. Bean (80%)
- Facebook/GE (79%)
- 49ers/Cowboys/ NFL/Patriots/ (78%)
- Wrangler/Yankees (77%)
Wilson Sporting Goods (76%)
- Craftsman Tools/
Jack Daniels/Kodak (75%)
- Campbell’s/ Gibson (74%)
- eBay (73%)
- Heinz/Sears (72%)
- McDonald’s/KFC (71%)
- Kellogg’s/ Tide (70%)
It’s not surprising that many brands in the top-50 are true American Icons. It is worth noting, however, which brands in particular moved up the list into this year’s top-50: Apple, Amazon, Google, Sam Adams, American Express, Facebook, and eBay.
None of this should suggest that other brands are not patriotic, or that they don’t possess any patriotic resonance. Rational aspects like being an American company, or being “Made in the USA,” or having nationally directed CSR activities and sponsorships all play a part in the make-up of any brand, particularly as it regards its patriotic nature and public face. But if you want to differentiate via brand values, especially one this emotional, if there are high levels of believability, good marketing just gets better, along with brand sales and profits.
Last year, when the 2013 Most Patriotic Brands list was published, some readers posted comments how some of the brands didn’t belong on the list because their products weren’t actually manufactured in the United States. Alas, foreign production is something that’s become more-and-more a reality in today’s global economy. But then, it’s also worth remembering that’s the rational side of the decision-making coin, which isn’t making as big a contribution to brand engagement as it used to. And if you’re talking “brand,” emotion always trumps rational. Always.
One lesson marketers should have learned about brands over the past couple of decades is, more-and-more, brands, and what they “mean” and what they are able to stand for, have become surrogates for added-value. Those brands that can make the emotional connection with the consumer will always have a strategic – and sometimes even, tactical – advantage over competitors when it come to the marketplace battle for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers. Kind of like the Thirteen Colonies and the British Empire!
Happy 4th of July!
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