Brandweek does extensive story on BrandIndex's best & worst value brands

Wal-Mart Among Best 'Value' Brands, AIG Among Worst

A recent survey by YouGovPolimetrix revealed that the current economy has a lot to do with how consumers perceive brand value, which the market research firm defines as getting good value for what you pay. Budget brands like Wal-Mart and Old Navy were ranked the highest by consumers, while more upscale brands and financial services firms ranked the lowest, reflecting the loss of consumer confidence in those brands.

To examine the value of brands, YouGovPolimetrix collected data between Sept. 1 and Oct. 27 from a sample of the U.S. population ages 18 and over. The BrandIndex survey drew responses from an online panel of over 1 million consumers. Ted Marzilli, senior vp and general manager at YouGovPolimetrix, said this timeframe was chosen specifically to examine what happened to brands during the economic crisis.

The top five brands with the highest consumer perception value were Craftsman, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Google and Rubbermaid. Brands with the worst perception of value were MTV, Hummer, Red Bull, AIG and Abercrombie & Fitch. Additionally, the survey found that over the past two months, value perception scores have increased for Microsoft, Starbucks, Verizon Wireless, Folgers, Bath and Body Works, but the scores decreased most for AIG, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Foot Locker and Merrill Lynch.

"There's a common theme here," said Marzilli. "In the case of financial services, consumers see these brands as irresposible in the way they handled their own finances and how they handle the finances of consumers." For that reason, Marzilli added, quality, reputiation and image scores (measured in a separate survey) for financial services firms also dropped significantly during this period.

When it comes to brands that have increased in value perception, it is typically tied to increased marketing efforts and new ad campaigns, said Marzilli. "Brands that have launched campaigns in the last 60 days are having significant success in how consumers perceive them, with Microsoft and Folgers being two prominent examples," he said.

BrandIndex also measured the brands with the best and worst value perception in 19 categories, and found that:

• For domestic airlines, Southwest ranked as "best," while United ranked as "worst."
• For international airlines, Virgin Atlantic ranked as best; Air France ranked as worst.
• For coffee/non-carbonated beverages, Lipton ranked as best; Perrier ranked as worst.
• For beer, Samuel Adams and Corona ranked as best; Milwaukee's Best and Icehouse ranked as worst.
• For spirits, Jack Daniels and Bacardi ranked as best; Wild Turkey, Ballantines and Sauza ranked as worst.
• For domestic car makers, Chevrolet and Saturn ranked as best; Hummer ranked as worst.
• For international car makers, Toyota and Honda ranked as best; Infiniti and Audi ranked as worst.
• For women's clothing stores, Lane Bryant ranked as best; Juicy Couture and Wet Seal ranked as worst.
• For all other clothing stores, Old Navy ranked as best; Abercrombie & Fitch ranked as worst.
• For computer equipment, HP and Sony ranked as best; Lenovo and Acer ranked as worst.
• For consumer products and goods, Clorox and Crest ranked as best; Schick ranked as worst.
• For department stores, Target and Wal-Mart ranked as best; Neiman Marcus ranked as worst.
• For grocery stores, Kroger ranked as best; 7-11 ranked as worst.
• For insurance, AAA ranked as best; AIG ranked as worst.
• For credit cards, Visa ranked as best; Discover ranked as worst.
• For specialty retail/home improvement, Home Depot and Lowe's ranked as best; Brookstone and 99 Cents Only ranked as worst.
• For specialty retail/drugstores, Walgreen's ranked as best; Long's Drugs ranked as worst.
• For amusement parks, Sea World ranked as best; Six Flags ranked as worst.
• For hotels, Best Western and Comfort Inn ranked as best; Motel 6 ranked as worst.

The findings show that there's a real focus among consumers on bargain brands, as opposed to more expensive, high-fashion brands. "Some of the other performers [like Home Depot Lowe's] are brands that have been around a long time," said Marzilli. "In times of a crisis, people tend to go to brands that they're comfortable with and that are dependable."