When a brand connects with consumers on a deeper level, it can result in sustained sales growth.
That's why Netflix (NFLX -2.25%), Amazon (AMZN -3.03%), Southwest Airlines (LUV 0.46%), and Starbucks (SBUX -1.42%) cultivate their images and reputations so carefully. Amazon has built its brand on price, service, and delivery while Netflix has staked its reputation on offering plentiful, current content at a price well below traditional pay television.
Similarly, Southwest has grown by offering cheaper prices and no hidden fees, and having a staff that actually seems to care. Starbucks, one the other hand, has eschewed price and value, and has instead gone for being a familiar home away from home for its customers.
These are all different strategies, but they explain why these four brands routinely rate well when it comes to how consumers perceive brands. For example, Amazon topped Netflix on YouGov BrandIndex's list of best-perceived brands in the group's United States mid-year report, which was the same order the two companies were in for the full previous year. In addition, in 2015 and for at least the first half of 2016, Southwest led all airlines. Starbucks came in third under lighter fare and beverages for the first half of 2016, up from fourth in 2015. YouGov uses a "buzz score" based on asking people: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
In a broad sense, these are four of the most-liked companies in the United States -- brands driven to the top by loyal customers. But when it comes to delivering the best customer experience, The Motley Fool's Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) followers have a clear favorite among these four...Amazon, which may explain that brand's tremendous continued growth.
What did the poll say?
Over a 24-hour period, 2,444 people voted in a Motley Fool Twitter poll asking: "Which company delivers your favorite customer experience?" The choices were Amazon, Netflix, Starbucks, or Southwest.
Overwhelmingly, the not-entirely scientific poll found that Amazon delivered people's favorite customer experience. The online retailer received 59% of the vote while Netflix came in second with 20%, Starbucks picked up third at 12%, and Southwest pulled up the rear at 9%.
Which company delivers your favorite customer experience?— The Motley Fool (@themotleyfool) September 14, 2016
Why is this important?
The numbers here were pretty overwhelmingly in favor of Amazon, which has refined its process to the point that consumers don't have to think about using it to buy things. It's simply easy to buy from Amazon, especially for Prime members. Once the company has your credit card info, future purchases take as little as a single click.
All four companies on this list are well-liked, but none have built up customer goodwill like Amazon. For Netflix, the company will always be a little less-liked after a price increase. For Starbucks, the chain is always going to be held back a bit by lines, high prices, and crowded stores at peak times. Southwest is a victim of the industry it operates in as even a beloved airline has to deal with angry customers due to events it cannot control.
Still, Amazon's margin of victory here indicates its success in removing barriers to buying that other digital stores face. The company has the trust of the public and that's very good news for it going forward.