Published June 3, 2022
Middle East and Africa’s most loved brands Talkwalker
On the one hand, brand love is a difficult concept to identify and measure, especially as it is subjective and relies on consumers’ experiences with brands. On the other, brand love has become a strategic business imperative for brands looking to perpetuate the consumer’s household in markets with socio-economic variances.
In the Middle East, brands strive to become a household name for their categories, thus they must be able to viscerally understand what makes people love one particular brand over another. For marketers, brand love is the new bottom-line revenue.
Brand love is not coincidental. It requires continued nurturing and consumer feedback. In fact, brand love must evolve naturally between a consumer and a brand, without being forced. One way to understand brand love is to ask oneself which brands are consumers willing to forgive, recommend to friends, and keep buying from.
What is brand love?
The relationship between consumers and brands lies on a spectrum with two extremes. One being transactional, where consumers simply buy a brand that serves their needs while being apathetic towards it, and the other being brand fanatics consisting of zealots willing to go all the way for a brand (tattooing a logo on their body would be an example).
The middle ground between those two extremes is where consumers often identify their relationship with brands. Brand love is that sweet spot where consumers feel comfortable with brands. It’s a sacred relationship that helps consumers identify themselves and reflect their uniqueness in society. Keep in mind that each consumer has its own cluster of brands that they ‘like’ or ‘appreciate’, and that cluster is continuously evolving with age, income, social pressure, and interests.
Therefore, it is important for brands to enter that middle ground in the consumer’s spectrum and maintain that position for the long run. That process is easier said than done because consumers nowadays engage brands at numerous levels whether on social media, websites, telephone or even in person. How can brands consolidate the entire customer journey in a way that fosters brand love?
Fostering brand love accelerates the sales cycle while making the brand more resilient
Brands that get close to their consumers are in a unique position to be sustainable and resilient in the face of economic adversity. According to recent studies, 75% of consumers changed their buying habits during the pandemic - and are increasingly willing to change brands. Also, 86% of consumers spend more on a brand they love. The question that poses itself is: Are brands ready for a love-driven consumer relationship?
According to Talkwalker’s latest report ‘Evolving consumer behavior in the GCC during Ramadan 2022’, 72% of GCC consumers expressed strong loyalty to the brands they currently use. Though, 70% have also said they’d consider new brands if the quality of products is worth the switch. It has also been identified that the quality-to-price ratio significantly drives brand loyalty in the GCC. The key point here is that brand love is not static and is constantly being affected by external forces.
Why is brand love important for Middle East brands?
Fostering brand love in the Middle East has become crucial in the digital age for its ability to transform a brand from a commodity to an indispensable part of a consumer’s life. A brand's role in a consumer’s life stops being only utilitarian but also evolves to create an emotional bond that encourages loyalty and affinity.
When consumers love a brand they are more likely to recommend it to their friends, and to even defend it in times of crisis. In the Middle East, word of mouth remains a powerful channel through which consumers learn about a brand and share their experiences with it. Therefore, it is critical for marketers and brand managers to maintain a high level of awareness and positive sentiment.
Brand love is important for marketers in the Middle East because brand love:
- Leads to brand loyalty
- Leads consumers to recommend the brand to their immediate circle of friends
- Turns customers into lifelong fans willing to shout it from the roof as advocates
- Leads consumers to be more willing to pay a premium price for an item
- Leads consumers to buy more of an item because it fulfills an emotional need for them
- Protects a brand during an economic downturn, making it more resilient
- Maximizes the consumer’s satisfaction with a brand/product
- Helps consumers directly connect with the brand
Having a dedicated and loyal consumer base gives the brand a competitive edge and the agility to innovate swiftly. The secret to all that: Consumer-closeness.
How to measure brand love
As with any relationship, brand love is built on top of several layers that, combined, lead to a sustainable relationship. For this report, those layers have been identified as Passion, Customer Satisfaction, and Trust. The reason why those layers have been specifically chosen is because they each reflect a touchpoint in the customer journey with a brand.
Consumers are aware of a brand and therefore decide to try it. Once they have tried it, they (hopefully) are satisfied with the service or product they have just consumed. Once that cycle continues over the course of time, consumers eventually establish trust that the brand is capable of consistently delivering on that promise and sees it as an equal.
Where do consumers go to convey all those feelings towards a brand? Social media, review sites, and word of mouth.
The authors of Brand Love 2022 used Talkwalker’s Social Intelligence product and benchmarking solution to accurately measure each layer. From there, they created a brand love index score consisting of the aforementioned layers.
Each brand was ranked on a scale of 5 (best) to -5 (worst). These scores were an aggregate of all mentions around the brand that fit the criteria around one of these traits. These traits can be described in more detail as follows.
- The Passion score measures extreme passion or hatred towards a brand. The score uses contextual keyword, image, and emoji analysis to understand the sentiment towards a brand. This method of analysis allows the authors to differentiate between consumers being sarcastic or genuinely in love with a brand and its services.
- The Customer Satisfaction score reflects consumer sentiment from online reviews and forums. The score uses keywords and a rating score to allocate each result with a score between 5 and -5 based on the level of satisfaction.
- The Trust score measures the level of trust between the consumer and the brand, with 5 demonstrating full trust, and -5 illustrating distrust and skepticism. Brand trust has a positive influence on brand love, and is largely shaped by consumers’ trust in the brand’s promises and its ability to deliver a consistent experience.
Ultimately, the three scores compose the Brand Love Index, with each metric weighted as 1/3rd of the overall Brand Love Index. In order to qualify for the final rankings, the brands had to have more than 2,500 brand mentions with high engagement between July 1st, 2021 and March 31st, 2022.
The Middle East and Africa’s most favorite brands for 2022
Nescafé’s red mug has become emblematic of the brand’s popularity among the MEA region’s coffee drinkers. Nescafé is often considered to be the first coffee experience for millions of Arab coffee drinkers.
Nescafé enjoys strong brand loyalty in the MEA region, which is maintained by constant innovation and an elevated customer experience. For example, the brand recently announced that it wants to source its coffee 100% responsibly by 2025, an ambitious goal by all means, though the brand is making strides towards achieving this. First, it’s utilizing solar-powered bean drying techniques, advanced microshading, and empowering female farmers.
The data shows that Nescafé had over 177K online conversations in the MEA region between July 1, 2021, and March 31st, 2022, generating 1.4M engagements from consumers. The top emojis affiliated with the brand reflect the love that consumers have for the coffee brand.
Emojis used in online conversations related to “Nescafé” between July 1, 2021, and March 31st, 2022.
The Japanese automotive brand has become a household name in the GCC market for its luxurious line of cars and SUVs suitable for the weather. Lexus has been in the Middle East market since the early 90s and has since been able to win consumers’ hearts through cars that exude luxury, precision, speed, and excellence.
The sentiment around “Lexus” in the MENA market during the past 3 months shows that consumers generally have positive feelings towards the brand. The limited number of conversations with negative sentiment originates from the ongoing chip shortage affecting the global automotive market.
Evolution of consumer sentiment around “Lexus” during the past 3 months.
Even though ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ came out in 2006, it remains a hot topic among MEA consumers. An Egyptian YouTuber named ‘BOSY’ who specializes in summarizing popular movies has created an uptick in online conversations around ‘Prada’ during the past month.
However, the key driver of Prada’s love among Middle East consumers is the power of social media influencers who either share their outfits or comment on celebrities’ choice of wearing Prada.
Looking at the data, it appears the influencers’ conversations revolve around appreciating the quality and prestige that come from wearing Prada shoes or perfumes.
The top themes surrounding “Prada” in the MENA region during the past 3 months show that consumers are primarily talking about delivery, quality, and shopping.
Born in Barcelona, the global fast-fashion brand has become a staple in MEA consumers’ closets. Conversations around the brand have seen a significant increase during the past month in the region, mainly due to Ramadan Eid and the fact that consumers are buying more online. What’s interesting is that conversations are mainly driven by consumers from Turkey where the brand has a supplier and a large fan base.
Heat map of where the online conversations about “Stradivarius” are coming from during the past 3 months.
Digging deeper into the data we notice that 67% of the 7.7K conversations generated around the brand during the past 3 months had emotions of love and appreciation. This is often calculated by looking at keywords like “I love this outfit”, “I love the quality”, or even the heart emoji which consumers often use to reflect their gratitude towards a certain clothing item.
Talkwalker’s Smart Themes feature allows marketers to analyze the emotions affiliated with a certain brand.
As in Prada’s case, Stradivarius’ brand love is also amplified by influencers posting videos on the latest trends. For example, the most engaging online content is a video published by an influencer sharing her thoughts on where to wear the perfect summer/spring jacket.
Whether you call them “Chucks”, “Cons”, “Chucky Ts”, “All Stars”, or just “Converse” – the iconic shoe brand is popular among consumers of all ages and backgrounds. Why? Consistency.
Its simple yet classic look makes it an easy choice for consumers looking for a shoe that’s versatile while also being fashionable. Durability is also a major feat of the shoe, which unintentionally created a cult around the brand that basically values Converse shoes the more scruffy and worn down they look.
Rooted in its history with basketball players and athletes, the shoe brand has gained popularity among MEA consumers because it allows great space for personal expression.
Key sentiment drivers around “Converse” in the MENA region during the past 3 months show that keywords such as “love” and “bonheur” are driving sentiment up.
Brand Love 2022: Sustainability is the way to go
This year’s Brand Love 2022 report reveals that a brand’s sentiment is largely shaped by its sustainability credentials. It’s not only about carbon offsetting or recycling, it also includes the brand’s overall effort to become resilient and aware of the bigger issues affecting society.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion might have once been a simple marketing stunt performed by brands to convey a modern identity – but, today they are a crucial part of a brand’s long-term growth strategy.
With the pandemic hopefully behind us, consumers evaluate brands at a much higher standard. Posting memes and funny TikToks will not cut it anymore. Consumers expect brands to take clear and definable action towards achieving their environmental promises and to actively prioritize the wellness of the Earth ahead of profits. On multiple occasions, consumers have demanded more transparency and openness from the brands they buy from, something which has been pioneered by Millennial consumers and enforced by Gen-Z buyers.
Brands must understand that to win a consumer’s heart they must earn that love each and every day.
Below are some practical ways that brands can foster brand love with their consumers:
- Brands must get close to their consumer base. Get to know them at every level, not only their buying behavior, but also their favorite TV shows, foods, style preferences, ticks, and songs.
- Brands must embrace their unique identity. By staying true to their identity, brands are able to reflect sincere genuineness and transparency.
- Brands must be empathetic towards consumers, listen to their needs, and act upon them. One easy way is to leverage user-generated content to show that you care about what consumers say.
- Brands must follow through with their promises. Consumers were once forgivable towards brands, though nowadays they expect brands to stay true to their promises or at least acknowledge their shortcomings.
For the remainder of the top 10 most loved brands in the MEA region, I’d love for you to download the report to uncover the data and insights. Plus, the report includes a wealth of information on how brands should foster love with their consumers in 2022 and beyond.
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