We go behind the numbers with Ipsos’s Michael Rodenburgh to understand which B.C. brands you heart the most—and why
This year's list of B.C.'s most loved brands—our second annual ranking, done in partnership with market researchers Ipsos—is a mixture of the expected and the unexpected.
On the expected front: the dominance of retailers and restaurateurs among the top 20—names like Save-on-Foods (this year’s No. 1) and London Drugs (last year’s No. 1), White Spot and A&W. These are among the most-storied brands in the province, and British Columbians continue to show the love to homegrown talent.
On the unexpected side? The surprise debut of Vancouver International Airport at No. 5 on the list. So how exactly does an airport—host to so many stressed-out travellers, lost luggage, grounded flights and missed connections—do so well? Michael Rodenburgh, Ipsos’s executive vice-president for Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, explains.
“The data is telling us that people perceive them to be an extremely innovative and unique airport experience,” he says. “The experience of flying through YVR is so dramatically different than the average airport, and travellers recognize and appreciate what they’ve done to change the customer experience.”
To develop this year’s list, Ipsos surveyed 1,349 British Columbians between November 3 and November 16, 2014, asking them a series of questions on 65 consumer-facing brands (brands of companies headquartered in B.C. and/or companies that do the majority of their business here). As was the case last year, Rodenburgh pulled together a panel of experts to help determine the long list of names, with each brand measured holistically, as well as on a variety of independent brand attributes (see infographic linked below).
When the numbers were tallied for the 65 brands, Ipsos took the average and made that equal to 100. So for Save-on-Foods, this year’s No. 1 brand, achieving a 166 overall meant it scored 66 per cent higher than the average B.C. brand.
This score—the so-called attitudinal equity or “brand love”—matters for two key reasons, according to Rodenburgh: one, people want to do business with brands that they love, “so there is a high correlation between sales and equity.” Also, he adds, when times get tough for a business, brands with strong equity scores tend to resist negative market forces: “I often talk about brand equity as ‘an insulation blanket around your brand’: when it gets cold, it will keep you a little bit warmer.”
Rodenburgh thinks that Save-on-Foods, which last year ranked third, moved to the top spot largely as a result of increased media play. “What the data is telling us is their increased presence in the media has allowed them to move their numbers up on a couple key metrics: their trust score has gone up; the extent to which people identify with the brand has gone up; and the perception that they’re innovative as well as their visibility—the extent to which people see them everywhere—has gone up. They’ve done a good job just by being strong marketers.”
Speaking of strong marketers, Telus cracks the overall top 10 this year—despite ranking second, between beleaguered ICBC and TransLink, as the brand with which British Columbians are most likely to have had “a negative personal experience.” The telecom giant’s overall success can be credited both to the ubiquity of the Telus name and the perception among respondents that it’s an innovative brand and one that people “identify with” (a measure that Rodenburgh alternately calls the brand’s “relevance”).
Vancouver’s marquee sports franchise, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky—dropping from No. 6 last year to No. 11 on this year’s list. “The Canucks are an interesting brand because what happens on the ice affects what happens with their overall brand equity,” observes Rodenburgh. “Certainly, the situation on the ice going through last year and into the summer hurt their brand. What I would say, though, is that their scores on visibility and trust have not changed in any substantial way.”
One of the biggest moves on the list happened outside the top 10, with A&W jumping 12 spots to No. 14. “They’ve improved their relevance score and they have improved their uniqueness score,” says Rodenburgh. “One thing, speaking as a consumer, is that they’ve come out with a very unique advertising campaign. I think they were the first to say hormone-free and steroid-free beef and chicken. I think that has helped them improve their overall equity score. People noticed it and see them as being an innovator in their category.”
And then there’s Purdys—which wasn’t even measured in last year’s survey but debuts this year at No. 4. While Rodenburgh says that the Purdys name resonates strongly at certain “special occasion” times of the year—including this month, around Valentine’s Day—the success of the 108-year-old chocolatier speaks to a broader truth about the brands topping this year’s list: “A great brand is rarely built overnight.”