Corporate Eye

Economy Down, Bargain Brands’ Value Perception Up

As one might expect, when the economy takes a nosedive, consumers’ perceptions of bargain brands go up, and their perceptions of luxury brands go down. 

In a recent study of over 1 million U.S. consumers over the age of 18, conducted by YouGovPolimetrix, the power of consumer confidence was demonstrated as luxury brands took a value perception hit while bargain brands like Wal-Mart took a leap.

Brands with the highest value perception were:

  1. Craftsman
  2. History Channel
  3. Discovery Channel
  4. Google
  5. Rubbermaid

The study measured the brands with the highest and lowest value perception in 19 categories with the following results reported (adapted from BrandWeek):

  1. Domestic airlines: Southwest ranked as best, while United ranked as worst.
  2. International airlines: Virgin Atlantic ranked as best; Air France ranked as worst.
  3. Coffee/non-carbonated beverages: Lipton ranked as best; Perrier ranked as worst.
  4. Beer: Samuel Adams and Corona ranked as best; Milwaukee’s Best and Icehouse ranked as worst.
  5. Spirits: Jack Daniels and Bacardi ranked as best; Wild Turkey, Ballantines and Sauza ranked as worst.
  6. Domestic car makers: Chevrolet and Saturn ranked as best; Hummer ranked as worst.
  7. International car makers: Toyota and Honda ranked as best; Infiniti and Audi ranked as worst.
  8. Women’s clothing stores: Lane Bryant ranked as best; Juicy Couture and Wet Seal ranked as worst.
  9. All other clothing stores: Old Navy ranked as best; Abercrombie & Fitch ranked as worst.
  10. Computer equipment: HP and Sony ranked as best; Lenovo and Acer ranked as worst.
  11. Consumer products and goods: Clorox and Crest ranked as best; Schick ranked as worst.
  12. Department stores: Target and Wal-Mart ranked as best; Neiman Marcus ranked as worst.
  13. Grocery stores: Kroger ranked as best; 7-11 ranked as worst.
  14. Insurance: AAA ranked as best; AIG ranked as worst.
  15. Credit cards: Visa ranked as best; Discover ranked as worst.
  16. Specialty retail/home improvement: Home Depot and Lowe’s ranked as best;  Brookstone and 99 Cents Only ranked as worst.
  17. Specialty retail/drugstores: Walgreen’s ranked as best; Long’s Drugs ranked as worst.
  18. Amusement parks: Sea World ranked as best; Six Flags ranked as worst.
  19. Hotels: Best Western and Comfort Inn ranked as best; Motel 6 ranked as worst.

I don’t see any particularly surprising results from this study based on the current state of the economy in the U.S.  It is interesting, however, to note that the study also found that during a struggling economy, consumers go back to brands they’re familiar and comfortable with.  That says a lot about how important it is for companies to build a long-term brand strategy that leverages a consistent brand message and promise.  At the end of the day, that’s what consumers remember, and that’s what they return to for security and peace-of-mind.

Your thoughts?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.