Loyalty Leaders

Passikoff: Loyalty is boffo!

Loyalty is Boffo! That’s show-biz talk. For “terrific!” More for some brands than others, but still.

The accolade “boffo” has roots in Elizabethan England. When affluent people would buy private box seats to watch theatre, the only place to get them was the box officeHow many people bought tickets at the box office ultimately determined the success of the production. The more, the better. Just like loyalty.

Though it had become part of the vernacular, “boffo” was first used in a headline in Variety, the theatre and vaudeville trade magazine, to shorthand a theatrical success – extolling the amount of money taken in at the box office – initially for vaudeville, then Broadway, and thereafter, film releases. So, boffo = engaged audiences = profits. 

Sticking with the patois, it’s pretty clear brand loyalty is “boffo.” And for brands where it is, there are financialand customer engagement box office-like benefits. Just like a show that sells out their house is SRO (“Standing Room Only”). Or is so popular it has to extend its run. That part of the biz – the loyalty business – falls under “The Rule of Six.” It’s pretty much the brand version of meeting the criteria of critics, generating large audiences, or getting a 5-thumbs up review. A brand that best meets the mostly-emotional expectations of its consumer audience, always gets rave reviews! Loyalty = engaged audiences = profits. That’s called the “loyalty bit.”

How do I know that? Well, we just released our 15th annual Loyalty Leaders List, a consumer review of 1,650 brands in 145 categories, where the most boffo brands got top billing. Monitoring movement up and down this list is an important step for brand managers and loyalty folks, in the same way Hollywood agents monitor film grosses. Because they know a change always predicts future consumer behavior and bottom lines. Just like loyalty.

This year’s boffo-est loyalty brands included the following (#s in parentheses indicate last year’s rank): 

1. Apple (Smartphones, #1) 

2. Amazon (Online Retail, #2)

3. Domino’s (Pizza, #3)

4. Netflix (Video Streaming, #8)

5. TikTok (Social Networking, #5)

6. Nike (Athletic Footwear, #11)

Marketing and advertising matters, of course, but more so a brand’s ability to emotionally engage, which involves something more than just entertainment. For example, the success of the Barbie movie and its emotive influence on consumer-engagement was readily apparent at the box office. A domestic opening of $1.5 billion, absolutely qualifies as “boffo.” Those ticket sales, however, were accompanied by some boffo loyalty effects for the Mattel brand too. 

Mattel created the Barbie doll and owns the Barbie IP. Their brand got a loyalty “bounce” of 46 spots, moving from #88 last year up to #42 this year. Remember, loyalty = engaged audiences = profits. So, no surprise, Mattel has other movies in development for their Hot Wheels and Polly Pocket lines. Like they say, “Nothing succeeds like success.”

They also say, “There’s no business like show business,” but, as there are several businesses like accounting, I think it’s important to point out that consumer loyalty assessments are leading-indicators of positive, consumer behavior and brand profitability. Along with Mattel, Tito’s (+53) and T.J. Maxx (+32) had some of largest loyalty-list gains this year.

This year 12 newcomers got to strut their stuff into the Top 100. That’s the largest number of new brands to appear in the survey’s 15-year history, so kudos to them! They included ChatGPT (AI, #49), Modelo Especial (Beer, #71), Kia (Automotive, #76), Hogwarts Legacy (Video Games, #91), and the NFL (Major League Sports, #94). Alas, some brand performances didn’t get reviewed as well as others. They break a leg, and not in the good way that theatre folks mean. 

The brand formerly known as “Twitter” was #47 last year but lost loyalty with its “X” name-change, among other brand blunders. Consumers clipped X’s loyalty wings, dropping it 45 spots to #92 this year. Loyalty-wise, it got the hook. That’s a vaudeville reference to giving such a bad performance you were dragged offstage by a long hook to avoid having a stagehand seen by the audience. Brands should never put themselves in a position to get the hook by consumers!

Take a look a the complete 2023 Top 100 Loyalty Leaders, the Top of the Chart brands, here. The list consistently proves brands that make loyalty, engagement, and expectations their top priorities not only place high on the list, but more importantly, they rank high on consumers’ shopping lists. That’s the really boffo part! Brands that can do that always perform better.

And always get star billing.

Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash

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