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In our latest ranking of the brands that matter to British Columbians, engaging customers takes on a new importance

Want to make friends and influence people? Don’t just stand there—be engaging. The same goes for the frontrunners in our fourth annual ranking of B.C.’s top brands, which sees a few names surge and others take a tumble. In its survey for this year’s list, research partner Ipsos found that engagement was the most powerful driver of brand influence.

“Engagement is the notion of people interacting with brands,” says Michael Rodenburgh, executive vice-president for Western Canada at Ipsos. “The old school of marketing tells us that people consume or buy brands, but I think the age of marketing has transformed into one where people personify themselves with the brands that they consume. And that requires, to a certain extent, a conversation and a level of connecting with brands that transcends just being a consumer.”

Ipsos—which defines influence as making an impact on people’s lives by eliciting strong feelings, inspiring them to act and creating something they identify with—uses a long list of criteria to measure engagement. Among them: willingness to watch a brand’s online ads, anticipation about what the brand will introduce next and a sense that it represents qualities the consumer wants to reflect.

 

B.C.'s 20 Most Influential Brands

Influence score

(change in rank from 2016) 

bc's most influential brandsBCBusiness*For the complete list of 65 most influential brands in B.C., check out BCBusiness magazine, available on newsstands.

 

For Vancouver brand strategy adviser David Allison, engagement means helping someone feel like they belong. He cites Apple Inc., whose stores encourage visitors to stay awhile even if they have no plans to buy anything: “There’s a brand that engages people, that has said, ‘Come and be part of our family, man. Come and hang out in here.’”

As Allison points out, many of the brands in the ranking are entertainment-oriented, from the Vancouver Canucks (falling five spots to 13th) to A&W (up three to No. 17). “I believe the ones that are going to score the highest on engagement are those that have to do with your pleasure time, the things that you love to do.”

As always, government and quasi-governmental agencies are well represented, comprising almost half of the top 20. Brands like BC Hydro—which again takes the No. 1 spot—and YVR (down one place to fifth) are top of mind for a reason, says Bob Stamnes, president of Vancouver-based Elevator Strategy Advertising & Design Inc. “By and large, they deliver a good, consistent experience time in and time out, and provide relative value for that experience.”

The most influential brands are likely good at staying out of trouble, Stamnes observes. Today, “brands are driven in large part by ensuring that they don’t get punished,” he says, noting that social media has forced them to take responsibility for their behaviour. “Those that respond in real time, those that are seen to be a good company by virtue of the timeliness and the manner in which they responded, are probably going to get rewarded.”

Telus and Save-On-Foods also return to the top three, though, like BC Hydro, they have lower influence scores than last year. Stamnes and Rodenburgh agree that Vancouver-based Telus has set itself apart from outsiders like Rogers and Shaw. “Telus has done a really good job in terms of community engagement,” Stamnes says, “and also been incredibly aggressive in going after market share.”

Best Buy makes the biggest jump, up nine places to No. 10, followed by the Vancouver Sun, which gains six. “They have obviously tried to transform their business, and they are competing heavily against Amazon,” Rodenburgh says of Best Buy. As for the Sun, Stamnes credits the newspaper for bolstering its local coverage and creating a good online experience.

The largest drop: London Drugs, which plunges from No. 6 to No. 14. Like Best Buy and Save-On-Foods, the venerable B.C.-based chain faces stiff competition. “On the balance, they’re a small regional retail player up against some pretty heavy hitters,” Rodenburgh says.

When it comes to engagement, Stamnes has a warning for anyone tempted to skip TV ad campaigns and other big-picture messaging in favour of courting individual customers online. “Brands have to be careful about having not just a one-on-one relationship,” he says. “There has to be marketing there that conveys a sense of who they are and what they’re all about.”

How our survey worked

  • Ipsos evaluated a total of 65 brands from November 2 to 13, 2016
  • Respondents were British Columbians aged 18-plus and surveyed online; Ipsos weighted data by age and gender
  • Each respondent was asked to rate 10 brands randomly
  • Roughly 200 respondents rated each brand

Under the Influencepoll influenceBCBusiness

In this year’s poll for the B.C.’s Most Influential Brands ranking, engagement held the most overall sway among Ipsos’s five drivers of influence. But remember: all brands are different. What powers influence for one brand may have little bearing on another.