For the fourth year in a row, Google has been named the most influential brand in Canada by Ipsos.
On Tuesday, Ipsos Canada COO Steve Levy revealed the firm’s annual list of Canada’s most influential brands in partnership with the Institute of Communication Agencies at FFWD advertising and marketing week in Toronto.
All five of the top spots on the list are held by technology brands, demonstrating how central tech has become to consumers’ lives. Just three non-tech brands were included in the top 10 – Visa, Walmart and Tim Hortons.
Tim Hortons is the top ranking Canadian brand on the list, followed by CBC at number 11, President’s Choice at number 13 and The Weather Network at number 16.
IKEA’s influence grew greatly over the past year allowing the brand to jump 14 spots from 38 to 24 between 2014 and 2015. Nintendo and Expedia also saw great increases, moving from 64 to 43 and 79 to 57, respectively.
Subway, meanwhile, lost influence over the past year; dropping from 30 in 2014 to 53 this year. TD and Sears also saw substantial losses of influence, with TD dropping from 31 to 54 and Sears dropping from 66 to 97.
Ipsos study of the most influential brands is the result of interviews with over 6,000 Canadians. The scores are determined based on the participants’ responses to questions about their engagement with brands and their perception of the brand’s trustworthiness, innovations and corporate citizenship.
Take a look at what propelled the top 10 brands:
Google continues to dominate the top spot because of its “almost maniacal focus on the user,” according to Levy. The brand also benefits from its daily role in consumers’ lives, he said. While brands selling big ticket items like vehicles or home appliances only have the ear of consumers’ once every few years, many consumers use Google products several times a day; a factor that greatly increases its influence.
Apple has ranked in the top five every year since Ipsos launched the study in 2011. What’s keeping it on top? Brand equity. Over the years, Apple has built incredible equity based on the quality of its products. Put simply, Levy said, Apple products work. And that earned trust helps the brand maintain its influence even when it suffers a misstep.
Microsoft’s influence is rooted in its 40-year history. Almost half of Canadians use Microsoft products daily and 54% said they believe the company has a strong future. Microsoft is seen as a dependable brand because of the long history with its customers, said Levy.
Last spring, Microsoft killed off its Internet Explorer brand. At the same time, it shifted its focus to making the most use of the Microsoft name, which CMO Chris Capossela said is the strongest in the company’s stable.
In the advertising realm, Microsoft actually backed away from its ad business, selling off a portion of it to AOL last June.
Facebook’s omnipresence in consumers’ social life is the source of its influence. Almost half of Canadians said it’s a brand they see everywhere, and a similar number report its used by “most” of their friends and family. Like Microsoft and Google, the brand benefits from its daily interactions with consumers.
The brand also scored well on the innovation front, with 32% saying they believe YouTube “changed the consumer landscape forever” and 35% saying they see the brand as “original.”
Over the past year, YouTube made itself known in the Canadian market with a large OOH campaign featuring Canadian YouTubers. It also continued its dominance in video streaming, with 70% of Canadians reporting they watch YouTube at least monthly, according to Media Technology Monitor. That scope, paired with YouTube’s rolodex of big name advertisers, also helped YouTube Canada land a spot on Marketing’s Media Player of the Year shortlist for 2015.
In 2015, Visa Canada teamed up with Movember for a charity campaign, showed off a connected car at TIFF and scored a viral hit with a quirky skills competition video it filmed as part of its NHL partnership.
Walmart’s hefty presence in the Canadian market helped it secure its fifth top 10 placing on the Ipsos influence list. The brand’s considerable ad spend earned it points, with 53% of Canadians reporting both that they view Walmart as a company that advertises a lot and that Walmart is a brand they see “everywhere.”
In 2015, Walmart grew its retail footprint in Canada by picking up 13 former Target locations and committing to open 29 “supercentre” stores by Feb. 1, 2016. It also introduced online grocery pickup at several locations and beefed up its offering of organic foods with a new line under its “Great Value” private label.
Like Walmart, Tim Hortons’ influence was bolstered by its ad spend and retail footprint. But, it also scored well in the corporate citizenship category, with 58% of Canadians saying they see Tim Hortons as a brand that inspires a sense of Canadian pride – the top score for that question among the brands in the top 10.
Last year, the brand also earned top marks on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, which named Tim Hortons the most trusted brand in Canada for 2015. That same year, Tim Hortons encouraged Canadians to share their good deeds on social media during its #WarmWishes campaign, enlisted Sidney Crosby to star in a lighthearted ad and topped Insightrix Research’s list of the top sponsors of Canadian hockey teams.
Amazon’s customer-centric approach to retail and marketing landed it the number nine spot, marking the first time the brand has made it into the top 10 on Ipsos’ list. A notable 41% of Canadians said Amazon understands consumer needs and 38% said the brand makes life more interesting.
The retailer started selling clothing and shoes in Canada for the first time in 2015; a move that came on the back of a bold prediction from a research firm that Amazon would be the number-one clothing retailer in the U.S. by 2016. It also launched “Prime Day,” a one-day sale that led to a huge surge in sales despite complaints from some consumers the discounts weren’t deep enough.
Samsung has made a slow, steady climb in influence since Ipsos first launched its most influential study in 2011. In the last five years, Samsung jumped 37 spots and settled into the top 10 last year.
In Canada, Samsung recently partnered with Toronto’s Centennial College on the Samsung Tech Institute – one of several moves that may have contributed to 40% of Canadians reporting they see the company as innovative.