Knowing your customers is simply not enough for brands anymore; they must be truly intimate with consumers in order to succeed in the modern day market, according to MLBM. The global marketing agency surveyed 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations in the U.S., Mexico and UAE with a focus on emotional response to brands in order to compile its annual “Most Intimate Brand” list. Topping the list? Apple, Disney, Amazon, Harley Davidson, and Netflix in the top five.

Apple has been named the “Most Intimate Brand” in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report — the largest study of brands based on emotion. In compiling its study, MLBM aimed to understand better how emotions help to drive the relationship between consumers and brands, as well as to measure which brands are most successful at creating these strong bonds. Among other factors, the study took into account the nostalgia consumers have for a brand, how the brand exceeds consumer expectation, and the degree to which consumers feel connected and committed to it.

“Electronics are the things that surround you and involve you with the world,” Mario Natarelli, MLBM’s managing partner, said in connection with the report. “Folks were looking for outlets and media brands were selling a means of escape.” As such, “Escapist brands (largely within media and entertainment) did extremely well this year. From Netflix and Nintendo to Xbox and HBO, consumers seem to connect strongly with brands that let them entertain themselves on demand.”

Two shining stars: Apple and Netflix. Natarelli said, “Apple is the highest-rated brand across several considerations. It scored highest for enhancement, ritual, identity and frequency of use. It also ranked [number one] for can’t live without, meaning it would be difficult to live without this brand.” And of Netflix, he said: “Netflix is the new Amazon. The brand, which ranked 25th in our previous study, has quickly risen to this year’s top five and we believe still has untapped potential.”

As for garments and apparel brands, it seems safe to say that the study favored the most commercial of companies. As such, Levi’s (which snagged the number 19 spot), Nike (20), H&M (32), Macy’s (34), Nordstrom (35), Lululemon (42), Sephora (46), Under Armour (49), adidas (58), Victoria’s Secret (93), and North Face (104) took the top spots in the category.

High fashion and luxury houses are situated much lower down on the list: Ralph Lauren (111), Hermes (124), Rolex (146), Tiffany & Co. (148), Cartier (149), Chanel (153), Gucci (158), and Louis Vuitton (161 – the lowest of all fashion/apparel brands).

Interestingly, given the escapist nature of high fashion, it is somewhat surprising that the industry most celebrated brands rank so poorly. Then again, the so-called Anti-Laws of Marketing specifically note that luxury brands should not pander to clients’ desires; brands should, instead, dominate the client and make it difficult for clients to buy, as well as avoid looking for consensus amongst consumers and avoiding group synergies,etc. (Note: These are former Louis Vuitton CEO Vincent Bastien’s words, not mine). 

And last but not least, in the battle amongst the social media giants, YouTube was the most favorably ranked in number 25 position, followed by Facebook (68), Snapchat (112), Instagram (141), and Twitter (142).