For the third consecutive year, Apple was named the top brand consumers can’t live without according to the 2014 ClickFox Loyalty Survey.

Amazon, Dell, and Coca-Cola tied for a distant second to Apple. Starbucks, Google, and Microsoft fell slightly from their top rankings in the 2013 ClickFox Loyalty Survey.

The ClickFox Loyalty Survey examines drivers of brand preferences and industries with the most loyal customers.

According to the survey, consumers identified food and beverage (ranked first with 32%), retail stores (16%), PC/Tablet and Cell Phone Manufacturers (15%), and banking/credit card providers (10%) as the top brand categories to which they are most loyal.

“It’s clear consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by brand image, quality, and customer service,” Joe Galvin, CMO and EVP at ClickFox, said in a press release. “The brand and customer service are virtually inseparable. When a consumer is loyal to a brand, it’s about the overall experience, not just one purchase. Take Apple, they created the baseline in quality design, customer service, the experience and all of that drives the brand image. If one fails, it tarnishes the brand.”

Respondents noted the least important aspects when determining brand loyalty are maintaining consumer privacy, lack of a loyalty program, convenience (easy to get), and corporate responsibility. While maintaining consumer privacy ranks low in priority, loyalties change abruptly if there is an actual data breach, according to ClickFox’s 2014 Consumer Behavior Survey.

What’s more, the study notes consumers do not want to be contacted in person for information about a brand, special offers, and upgrades. Instead, consumers prefer to be emailed or texted (64%), receive direct mail (15%) and receive promotions via a website (8%). Being contacted in person is less personable and less preferred than through an automated service.

Respondents indicated they desire personalized experiences when evaluating favored incentives and promotions; 32% of respondents said targeted coupons based on previous purchase/service history would be most likely to persuade them while over half the respondents found loyalty rewards most influential in their purchasing decisions. Consumers want to be recognized for their loyalty and longevity with a brand, but ranked frequency of promotions as least important (16%).

Regarding finding help with a product or service, consumers interact via email or text (35%), through a website (33%) or on the phone (14%). This demonstrates that ecommerce should be a priority when developing branding, the study notes. Companies need to look at their websites and social channels as their first impression, rather than a brick-and-mortar store.

The ClickFox 2014 Brand Loyalty Survey audited 309 consumers in April 2014 on brand loyalty. Respondents were 47% male and 53% female. The research evaluated a broad range of generational attitudes with 16% ages 18 to 29, 31% ages 30-44, 35% ages 45 to 60, and 18% ages 60 and up. Consumers polled included 25% earning under $50,000, 33% earning between $50,000 to $99,999, 12% earning $100,000 to $149,999, and 30% earning $150,000 or more annually per household.

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