Brands: Brands we love, brands we hate

No quibbles: being loved is good for sales. But being hated does not necessarily mean failure, according to our third annual survey into brand popularity. Jane Simms reports.

No brand sets out to be hated. But being on the receiving end of consumer contempt is more often than not better than simply being ignored. The often-loathed trio of Pot Noodle, McDonald's and AOL were detested more than any other brands in the past year, but no one could say they have not been successful; polarising opinion can most definitely work in a brand's favour. Ask the shareholders of fellow top-10 figure of hate Manchester United whether they care that their club is unpopular with so many, and they will no doubt point to the figures that show it is one of the most valuable sports brands in the world. Chelsea FC, the 29th most-hated brand, would no doubt love to trade places. Some would say its management is doing its level best to ensure it catches up.

Nearly 2500 UK consumers responded during March to the third annual online poll taken by Joshua G2, on behalf of Marketing, into the brands we love and hate.

The findings offer valuable insights into what motivates consumers to buy, and provides pointers for brands seeking to boost their popularity, but they also prove that it does not necessarily matter if a brand is disliked.

The airlines sector is a case in point. British Airways appears toward the top of the most-loved list and bottom of the most-hated list. It has only just clawed its way back to marginal profitability. By contrast, its no-frills competitors Ryanair and easyJet, both of which appear only in the most-hated list, have posted big profit increases; more than 56% in easyJet's case.

'Those in the most-loved list tend to be aspirational, whereas those in the most-hated list tend to be functional or niche brands,' says Malcolm Wilkinson, partner at management consultancy Deloitte. 'It is arguably better to have a clear positioning and targeting and make money from it, than it is to be an aspirational brand that people cannot afford.'

So the least-popular brands, such as TK Maxx and Pot Noodle, or those that polarise opinion, such as IKEA or Dyson, may be among the most successful. 'These brands are very good at segmental targeting and forging a strong connection with their market, so their lack of popular appeal is irrelevant,' says Wilkinson. 'If people have a strong opinion, even a negative one, that is important. It is much easier to turn a strong negative into a strong positive than to create something from nothing.' However, he adds that this does not apply to all sectors, citing charities as an exception.

Technology brands continue to make a strong showing in the most-loved list. 'Those that combine technology and service - Google, Amazon and eBay being obvious examples - are highly engaging,' says Dorothy MacKenzie, chairman of brand agency Dragon. 'They have almost created a new type of brand that is friendly, warm and outgoing, but part of their appeal is that they don't have to push themselves at people.'

Matthew Howells, director at Joshua G2, believes the results also illustrate how traditional favourites have been welcomed back to the fold by consumers. 'The most-loved list comprises brands that build emotional rapport, and that lasts,' he says. 'This means there are fewer significant changes than in the most-hated list. But there has been a drift toward "heart-and-soul" enduring brands, such as Heinz and Sainsbury's.'

A lack of correlation between adspend and favourability has become even more pronounced over the years. Brands in some of the highest-spending sectors - notably financial services and mobile networks - achieve no standout, and have become commoditised in many consumers' eyes. Direct Line and First Direct in particular appear to have lost their emotional appeal.

While high adspend won't necessarily translate to consumer appreciation, a good product will. BBC One, for instance, has remained popular while ITV plunged 29 spots; the Beeb's branding has been overhauled, but its success has also come from improved programming such as the return of Dr Who.

The lessons are clear: brands that want to be loved need to get their product, customer service, values and communications right. But brands that find themselves hated can take consolation in their bottom lines, knowing that they don't have to be loved to be successful.

TOP 50 - LOVED (%)

Rnk(06) Brand Total Gender (%) Place of residence(%)
vote Mid-
% shre Male Female lands North South

1 (1) Google 68.7 45.6 54.4 37.3 30.0 32.7
2 (3) Nokia 39.2 47.1 52.9 36.9 26.3 36.8
3 (17) Amazon 36.9 53.6 46.4 33.9 30.4 35.7
4 (2) Tesco 32.4 44.9 55.1 38.6 38.6 38.6
5 (4) eBay 30.7 42.1 57.9 30.0 36.4 33.6
6 (9) British Airways 27.1 52.6 47.4 36.3 25.2 38.6
7 (7) Coca-Cola 27.0 45.9 54.1 39.0 26.5 34.5
8 (5) Persil 26.2 50.9 49.1 38.1 26.2 35.7
9 (37) Heinz 25.8 46.2 53.8 37.1 27.1 35.8
10(15) O2 23.9 44.4 55.6 36.6 34.0 29.5
11(10) BBC One 23.8 54.5 45.5 38.3 25.0 36.6
12(6) Dell 21.9 49.0 51.0 38.8 27.0 34.2
13(19) Walkers Crisps 21.4 46.4 53.6 43.5 29.7 26.8
14(26) Nike 21.1 48.6 51.4 35.9 27.6 36.5
15(13) IKEA 20.1 36.5 63.5 39.3 33.1 27.6
16(40) Pringles 19.4 46.0 54.0 37.0 28.7 34.3
17(12) Asda 18.8 38.9 61.1 37.1 38.4 24.5
18(21) Sainsbury's 18.6 49.3 50.7 37.7 15.4 46.9
19(41) Cancer Research UK 18.6 40.8 59.2 41.1 27.0 31.9
20(18) M&S (high- 18.3 46.8 53.2 37.1 27.3 35.6
street store)
21(11) Birds Eye 17.9 45.9 54.1 44.8 29.2 26.0
22(33) The Sun 17.3 47.7 52.3 40.5 27.1 32.4
23(86) M&S (home 17.2 44.3 55.7 30.7 33.0 36.4
retailer)
24(31) Orange 16.7 44.3 55.7 42.8 25.9 31.3
25(80) Head & Shoulders 16.6 70.6 29.4 38.9 30.7 30.4
26(30) Bold 16.5 40.7 59.3 36.7 32.9 30.4
27(32) Galaxy 16.5 39.5 60.5 42.6 27.2 30.2
28(90) Waitrose 16.5 46.7 53.3 37.0 6.7 56.4
29(82) Levi's 16.4 63.9 36.1 38.9 27.2 33.9
30(35) Pantene 16.0 2.9 97.1 44.1 26.5 29.4
31(34) Stella Artois 15.9 50.0 50.0 43.8 25.0 31.3
32(46) Adidas 15.8 53.5 46.5 42.0 27.8 30.2
33(28) Daily Mail 15.7 37.3 62.7 32.5 28.6 38.9
34(20) Next 15.6 33.8 66.3 40.0 33.8 26.3
35(23) Crunchy Nut 15.3 43.8 56.2 41.1 25.4 33.5
Corn Flakes
36(91) KFC 15.3 49.5 50.5 39.1 27.7 33.2
37(39) Vodafone 15.0 46.6 53.4 38.0 25.3 36.6
38(47) Dyson 14.6 43.1 56.9 43.8 27.7 28.5
39(90) Sony Ericsson 14.6 51.5 48.5 37.1 30.0 32.9
40(27) Argos 14.4 59.5 40.5 25.7 31.1 43.2
41(22) Cadbury Dairy Milk 14.1 39.2 60.8 41.6 27.4 31.0
42(49) John Lewis 13.8 50.9 49.1 32.4 21.0 46.7
(home retailer)
43(-) NTL 13.7 50.5 49.5 47.1 31.7 21.1
44(25) B&Q 13.4 53.0 47.0 40.9 32.5 26.6
45(16) ITV 13.4 26.5 73.5 38.8 35.7 25.5
46(51) Pizza Hut 13.2 39.5 60.5 46.7 29.8 23.5
47(56) Kellogg's 12.9 53.8 46.2 39.4 30.4 30.1
Corn Flakes
48(131) McDonald's 12.9 41.6 58.4 38.7 33.2 28.1
49(29) Hewlett-Packard 12.5 47.4 52.6 36.4 27.8 35.8
50(36) Ariel 12.5 43.2 56.8 39.5 25.2 35.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


TOP 50 - HATED (%)

Rnk(06) Brand Total Gender (%) Place of residence(%)
vote Mid-
% shre Male Female lands North South

1 (1) Pot Noodle 29.3 41.5 58.5 40.9 25.8 33.3
2 (4) McDonald's 25.3 52.5 47.5 41.7 25.9 32.4
3 (-) AOL 22.8 57.4 42.6 36.4 24.6 39.0
4 (9) Sunny Delight 22.5 45.0 55.0 38.6 23.8 37.6
5 (3) Novon 19.9 46.7 53.3 38.5 27.3 34.2
6 (10) The Sun 18.6 46.1 53.9 33.4 29.0 37.6
7 (12) Manchester United 15.4 60.6 39.4 37.7 31.5 30.7
8 (8) Daily Star 14.8 42.7 57.3 33.8 28.2 38.0
9 (7) 3 13.8 46.1 53.9 39.5 30.5 29.9
10(51) Irn-Bru 13.6 36.3 63.7 42.1 22.0 36.0
11(21) Daz 13.3 47.5 52.5 40.0 22.2 37.8
12(15) TK Maxx 13.3 42.6 57.4 25.0 35.3 39.7
13(-) Smart 12.9 46.8 53.2 32.7 34.0 33.3
14(19) Ferrero Rocher 12.2 55.9 44.1 38.6 28.5 32.9
15(14) Snack-a-Jacks 12.2 45.2 54.8 41.5 23.5 35.0
16(24) Ryanair 12.1 58.5 41.5 35.0 24.6 40.4
17(30) Cadbury Creme Egg 11.9 36.8 63.2 38.9 19.4 41.7
18(55) Diadora 11.8 38.6 61.4 38.9 28.8 32.3
19(-) Batchelors 11.4 40.9 59.1 35.1 26.1 38.8
Cup a Soup
20(35) IKEA 11.3 61.2 38.8 43.2 25.2 31.6
21(2) QVC 11.3 59.3 40.7 38.5 25.6 36.0
22(31) easyJet 11.1 45.7 54.3 38.6 25.2 36.2
23(20) MFI 10.9 46.6 53.4 39.7 23.8 36.4
24(37) Dyson 10.9 46.1 53.9 39.1 24.7 36.2
25(13) Sky Sports 10.9 27.8 72.2 40.1 27.2 32.7
26(32) Time Computers 10.2 57.5 42.5 39.3 26.7 34.0
27(25) Loyd Grossman 10.1 56.1 43.9 35.7 32.8 31.6
28(11) Lidl 10.0 45.5 54.5 39.7 20.7 39.7
29(72) Chelsea FC 10.0 67.8 32.2 34.3 31.0 34.7
30(54) KFC 9.7 44.9 55.1 36.8 27.8 35.5
31(-) MSN (search) 9.7 59.5 40.6 40.5 32.4 27.0
32(120) Coca-Cola 9.5 42.4 57.6 39.3 29.7 31.0
33(-) AOL (search) 9.2 42.9 57.2 42.9 25.7 31.4
34(18) Kwik Save 8.9 43.7 56.3 40.5 29.8 29.8
35(42) Shredded Wheat 8.7 39.0 61.0 39.5 32.4 28.1
36(40) Doritos 8.6 46.9 53.1 43.0 32.4 24.6
37(22) Head & Shoulders 8.5 32.7 67.3 35.6 20.5 43.9
38(100) Barclays 8.4 48.5 51.5 39.1 24.3 36.6
39(-) Skoda 8.3 41.5 58.5 27.5 37.0 35.5
40(76) Orange 8.3 52.0 48.0 40.0 24.5 35.5
41(106) Burger King 8.2 29.9 70.1 43.1 26.9 29.9
42(113) Siemens 8.2 46.0 54.0 44.2 22.7 33.1
43(26) Alpen 8.1 40.0 60.0 41.5 27.2 31.3
44(84) British Airways 8.0 55.9 44.1 33.2 33.2 33.6
45(65) Motorola 8.0 49.8 50.2 40.7 26.8 32.5
46(73) Vodafone 7.9 45.0 55.0 35.6 28.3 36.1
47(44) Financial Times 7.7 42.2 57.8 43.8 28.6 27.6
48(78) Snickers 7.6 36.4 63.6 43.5 26.1 30.4
49(28) Coco Pops 7.6 45.4 54.6 39.9 26.8 33.3
50(97) eBay 7.4 63.2 36.8 44.7 28.9 26.3

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck

HIGH-STREET SHOPS

TK Maxx's position as the most hated brand in the category tells a similar story to that of Pot Noodle: not everyone likes it, but those who do, love it.

'TK Maxx is a retail phenomenon,' says Richard Hyman, managing director of Verdict Consulting. 'It is one of the fastest-growing retail businesses in the UK, and its spending penetration among its target audience and the level of repeat purchases makes its lack of widespread popularity irrelevant.'

The disappearance of Woolworths and WH Smith from the favourites list reflects strong competition from the supermarkets and online retailers such as Amazon. Resisting the web threat - so far, at least - is Argos, with its no-frills approach. How it will perform against Tesco's new Direct catalogue, which features 1200 pages of non-food items, from furniture to camping gear and PCs, remains to be seen.

John Lewis' entry into the top five is a vindication of its strong customer service ethos, but the appearance of M&S in the least-favourite list is surprising. Perhaps some people really don't like Twiggy.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Marks & Spencer 22.7
2 Argos 17.8
3 John Lewis 13.5
4 Boots 11.6
5 Debenhams 7.7


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 TK Maxx 22.4
2 Mothercare 10.2
3 Woolworths 9.9
4 House of Fraser 5.9
5 Marks & Spencer 5.6

FASHION

Levi's has more than doubled its score in the favourites list over the past year and risen to 28 overall from outside the top 50 in 2006.

Its rise has coincided with its 'Dangerous liaison' TV campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, featuring a couple stripping off layers of clothes from eras since the 1870s.

Topshop owes its score to its success in translating catwalk fashion to the high street in an affordable and accessible way. The brand has also reinvented itself in a way French Connection has failed to do, believes Verdict's Hyman. 'For a while, French Connection could put its FCUK logo on anything and it would sell, but the brand would always, by its nature, have a finite life,' he says.

Gap's position at the top of the least-loved list reflects its apparent identity crisis - 'is it aimed at young singles, or mothers with children?' asks Dragon's MacKenzie - and growing competition from other high-street fashion brands that are perceived to offer better value.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Levi's 25.9
2 Next 24.7
3 Monsoon 7.1
4 Topshop 5.3
5 H&M 4.9


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Gap 16.4
2 French Connection 13.5
3 Tommy Hilfiger 9.2
4 Topshop 7.7
5 H&M 7.3

70.7% think a designer label does not guarantee better quality or design

SUPERMARKETS

Tesco still leads the category favourites list, but also appears in the least-favourite list for the first time this year, and fell from second to fourth in the overall top 50.

'We are seeing the stirrings of a backlash from all demographics against this supermarket's size, dominance and perceived intrusion into our lives,' suggests Dragon's MacKenzie.

'Tesco is possibly not doing enough to mitigate consumers' assumptions that it has grown too powerful and arrogant, so the rumour that it is poised to examine its marketing strategy is timely,' she adds.

By contrast, Sainsbury's boosted its share of the positive vote this year and rose three places in the top 50, reflecting its greater confidence, customer focus and innovation. Sainsbury's also enjoys a better ethical reputation than Tesco. The area's growing importance also helps explain Waitrose's entry into the top five favourites. Its integration of a number of former Safeway stores taken over from Morrisons has also extended its geographical reach.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Tesco 35.1
2 Asda 20.4
3 Sainsbury's 20.1
4 Waitrose 18.9
5 Morrisons 11.2


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Lidl 13.2
2 Kwik Save 11.7
3 Tesco 9.4
4 Spar 7.7
5 Sainsbury's 7.4

70.8% prefer to visit a supermarket rather than use a delivery service

HOME STORES

The appearance of MFI, Wickes and Magnet at the top of the least-favourite category, combined with B&Q's slide down the favourites list, is partly due to consumers' falling spend on home improvements.

It may also reflect a growing desire for good service, a trend mirrored in the rise of M&S and John Lewis, but at odds with IKEA's continued dominance. Though, as Joshua's Howell points out: 'People forgive IKEA any bad service because it represents such great value.'

M&S has grown its share of popularity from nearly 8% last year to almost 21%, and to 23 in the top 50, demonstrating the strength of its recovery after the failed experiment with home stores under Vittorio Radice and their subsequent dramatic downsizing.

John Lewis' presence in the least-favourites list, despite its exemplary customer service, may reflect the frustration people feel at not having access to a store. This will be partly addressed by its plan to build 13 further stores over the next 10 years.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 IKEA 24.5
2 Marks & Spencer 20.9
3 John Lewis 16.9
4 B&Q 16.4
5 Homebase 5.0


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 MFI 15.0
2 Wickes 14.5
3 Magnet 13.2
4 John Lewis 11.9
5 Habitat 8.5

30.6% believe service level is the biggest barrier to shopping at an
out-of-town superstore

MOBILE NETWORKS

Given the domination of this category by six main players, it is inevitable that most will appear in both loved and hated lists.

Yet there is more they could do to improve their image. 'The category has become undifferentiated and dull, and the challenge is to create more distinctive positionings or risk becoming commoditised,' says Dragon's MacKenzie.

While O2 has extended its lead over Orange, it also enters the least-favourite list for the first time. Its marketing, however, has been more consistent Orange's, which has squandered its 'The future's bright, the future's Orange' positioning.

'Orange has lost its emotional appeal,' says Rebecca Jennings, senior analyst at Forrester. This could be a knock-on effect from a centrally imposed brand positioning after its takeover by France Telecom last year - it was recently forced to ditch its agency Mother in favour of Publicis and Fallon. By contrast, Telefonica, which acquired O2 last year, allows its brand more autonomy.

The poor showing of 3 is due to its focus on 3G technology, which has yet to win over the majority of consumers.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 O2 30.4
2 Orange 21.2
3 Vodafone 19.2
4 T-Mobile 14.5
5 Virgin 9.0


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 3 26.9
2 Orange 16.1
3 Vodafone 15.4
4 T-Mobile 12.5
5 O2 12.1

41.8% believe all the networks provide the same coverage and service

CHOCOLATE

It was a difficult year for Cadbury. A salmonella scare cost it £30m, disrupted its marketing and damaged its reputation.

It also had to deal with a recall of Easter eggs after concerns about labelling. Such big news stories dented the public's perception of the chocolate giant, and its flagship Dairy Milk brand fell from 22 to 40 in the top-50 favourites chart.

Cadbury's decision to end its sponsorship of Coronation Street could also have had an effect. Matthew Howells, director at Joshua G2, believes the 10-year deal served the brand well, and its decision to end the tie was misguided.

Cadbury Creme Egg, fifth on the favourite list in the category, shows the popularity of seasonal lines. It has also benefited from online work by CMW Interactive, which allowed consumers to upload their own ads.

Mars leads the way with Galaxy at the top spot and Maltesers in fourth. Yet it is a poor show by Nestle brands, with no Kit Kat or Aero in the top five.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Galaxy 18.9
2 Cadbury Dairy Milk 16.2
3 Ferrero Rocher 12.4
4 Maltesers 9.3
5 Cadbury Creme Egg 8.1


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Ferrero Rocher 16.0
2 Cadbury's Creme Egg 15.7
3 Snickers 10.0
4 Mingles 9.3
5 Picnic 8.1

56.0% think fewer ads for sweets and chocolate would help tackle obesity
in kids

MOBILE HANDSETS

The gap between Nokia and Sony Ericsson at the top of the favourites list reflects Nokia's success in establishing itself in the hearts and minds of consumers as the standout provider of mobile handsets, says Forrester's Jennings.

One of the main reasons for Nokia's strong favourability is its focus on the utility of its phones, rather than complex technology. Nokia's focus on 'connecting people' in its advertising exemplifies this approach, and is likely to be replicated in its direct marketing: in its recent invitation to direct shops to tender for its pan-European point-of-sale account, it stated that it wanted to put 'emotional engagement at the heart of the brand'.

Motorola slipped down the rankings one place and lost favourability to Sony Ericsson, despite the efforts of marketing director Simon Thompson, whose remit was to help it become number-one in the market. Thompson left the company in March after just a year in the job.

BlackBerry's drop down the least-favourite rankings reflects its wider penetration among its target market of business users, but it is unlikely to enter the favourite list given its niche appeal.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Nokia 46.7
2 Sony Ericsson 17.4
3 Motorola 14.2
4 Samsung 13.5
5 Siemens 3.3


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Siemens 18.0
2 Motorola 17.6
3 Nokia 13.7
4 BlackBerry 13.3
5 NEC 6.4

FOOTBALL

The fact that Manchester United heads the most-loved and most-hated lists, and is significantly more hated than loved, is entirely predictable, says Chris Brady, dean of the business school at Bournemouth University.

'Football's cult following means you are honour-bound to hate Man Utd if you support Liverpool, for example.'

The rankings also demonstrate the politics of envy peculiar to the British psyche and Joshua's Howells suggests it is no coincidence that Wigan has slipped out of the least-favourite list in a year when its performance has declined.

The teams are more unpopular than they were last year, reflecting fans' perception of being exploited through rising ticket prices and expensive merchandise to fund 'cheque-book football'.

Given the sport's need for both revenue and atmosphere, Brady believes it needs either to turn itself into a luxury brand or allow free entry to a third of the ground and sell the rest of the seats in expensive corporate hospitality packages.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Man Utd 23.7
2 Liverpool 17.0
3 Arsenal 13.3
4 Chelsea 9.1
5 Newcastle 6.0


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Man Utd 34.3
2 Chelsea 22.4
3 Arsenal 12.8
4 Leeds 4.9
5 Liverpool 4.6

81.7% believe football clubs rip off supporters with ticket prices and
merchandise

CAR MARQUES

Market leader Ford was toppled from its position as consumers' favourite car brand this year, but it wasn't all bad news - while its share of the favourability vote fell, its negative vote fell too.

'For the past 10 years Ford has been seen as trustworthy,' says Jay Nagley, managing director of consultancy Spyder Automotive. 'It is working to improve products and persuade people to treat it with warmth.' Its 'Feel the difference' push aims to encourage people who previously may not have considered a Ford to try one, and the new sporty MPV S-Max is designed to combine family motoring with a more dynamic driving experience.

Smart's poor showing reflects a general opinion of it as 'gimmicky', but Skoda's presence in the least favourite list must be frustrating. 'Its cars represent great quality for great prices and their owners are tremendously loyal,' says Nagley. 'The big push designed to change perceptions is slightly running out of steam, but new products such as the Roomster will take the story on.'

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 BMW 11.7
2 Ford 10.3
3 Audi 8.8
4 Jaguar 7.5
5 Volkswagen 7.4


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Smart 19.5
2 Skoda 12.5
3 Fiat 9.6
4 Ford 8.6
5 Renault 6.3

46.2% would sacrifice their engine efficiency for more speed

FINANCE

This may be one category where being in the least-favourite list is better than being among the favourites, suggests Deloitte's Wilkinson.

'Lloyds TSB grew sales 8% and lost 20% of profits last year, while Barclays, the least-favourite brand, grew sales by 16% and profits by 5%. So there appears to be no correlation between like/dislike and success.'

Three of the favourite brands are also in the least-liked list, suggesting that consumers think there is little to choose between them.

The relative lack of finance brands in the top 50 favourites or least favourites - Barclays is the only one that appears in the latter list - is telling. Jonathan Hall, global client managing director at Added Value, argues that five years ago Direct Line and First Direct would have appeared in the rankings, but today 'there is no finance brand that people seem even to vaguely care about'.

'It is ironic, given their massive marketing budgets, that they have been unable to achieve the kind of cut-through that Innocent done in the drinks sector with a fraction of their spend,' says Dragon's MacKenzie.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Lloyds TSB 14.6
2 Halifax Bank of Scotland 14.3
3 HSBC 12.8
4 Barclays 10.6
5 NatWest 10.2


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Barclays 13.1
2 Lloyds TSB 11.5
3 MBNA 10.4
4 Capital One 10.2
5 Halifax Bank of Scotland 8.1

85.6% are convinced that the rise in household debt was fuelled by the
willingness of financial institutions to offer credit

ONLINE SHOPPING

Amazon is one of the biggest success stories of this year's survey, rising up the rankings from 17 to third overall, relegating eBay to second place.

'Amazon does everything very well,' says Forrester's Jennings. 'It has made a huge investment in technology that allows it to offer great service, low prices and recommendations, as well as delivering when it says it will.'

Amazon was one of the first brands to exploit customers' desire for social networking and has ensured better email responsiveness and added phone numbers to its site, consolidating its place in shoppers' hearts.

Auction site eBay remains popular, but problems with fraud, hacking and the lack of consumer redress after disappointing interactions has also seen it enter the least-favourite list - at number one, no less. 'eBay will have to demonstrate it is trying to proof itself against such problems because negative word of mouth spreads very quickly and is very damaging,' says Jennings.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Amazon 38.9
2 eBay 32.4
3 Argos 5.8
4 Tesco.com 5.6
5 lastminute.com 3.2


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 eBay 17.8
2 Tesco.com 12.7
3 Carphone Warehouse 11.7
4 I Want One Of Those 8.5
5 Amazon 7.0

HOME APPLIANCES

Yet again, Dyson is one of the brands that polarises consumer opinion.

But the top of the least-favourite list is a dangerous place to be for a product whose USP is based on its product performance, design and likeability, says Dragon's MacKenzie. Dyson cyclone-powered vacuum cleaners are highly stylish and have a premium pricing, but some consumers have complained that they are difficult to use and break down.

Manufacturers will need to concentrate on innovation, technology and design to grow in the future.

While critics might argue that Dysons are often spotted furnishing rubbish tips, a more positive spin could see this as a reflection of its loyalists being more likely to trade up to a new model every time there is a new innovation. Yet, though Dyson has slightly improved its favourability score this year, the proportion of consumers who hated it has almost doubled. Founder James Dyson may have been knighted in the 2006 New Year's Honours, but Joshua's Howells believes consumers have still not forgiven his company for its decision to relocate its manufacturing to Malaysia and China.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Dyson 19.1
2 Panasonic 12.5
3 Hotpoint 10.7
4 Kenwood 9.2
5 Bosch 7.9


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Dyson 24.5
2 Pifco 14.4
3 Smeg 7.9
4 Hotpoint 7.0
5 Neff 7.0

27.6% are always keen to get the latest gadgets for the house

BEAUTY PRODUCTS

The success of Dove's 'real women' campaign is finally being reflected in its favourability scores, as the brand hit the top spot in this category.

'It's an extraordinary performance for a classic brand from a big multinational, and a clear signal to mass-market brands that there is another way,' says Dragon's MacKenzie. Dove has launched brand extensions at breakneck speed while managing to build and sustain the edginess, integrity and authenticity that play so well with consumers, turning itself into a challenger brand in the process.

Dove appears to have replaced The Body Shop in consumers' affections, says MacKenzie - the latter has fallen out of both lists this year. This could be down to its acquisition by giant L'Oreal, which left many consumers confused over exactly what the Body Shop brand now stands for. L'Oreal, which uses big-name actresses and models to promote its products, is the antithesis of Dove's 'campaign for real beauty' and is suffering as a result.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Dove 16.9
2 Nivea 14.7
3 Olay 13.6
4 Boots 12.5
5 L'Oreal 10.1


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Stella McCartney 15.5
2 L'Oreal 8.8
3 Boots 8.3
4 Maybelline 7.8
5 Rimmel 7.3

54.4% are more likely to be influenced by real people in beauty ads than
celebrities

AIRLINES

British Airways increased its share of the positive vote and rose three places, to number six, on the top 50 most-loved list, despite high-profile industrial unrest, passenger delays and baggage-handling problems over the past year.

It also widened the gap between itself and Virgin Atlantic, consolidating its position as Britain's favourite airline.

Dragon's MacKenzie believes its success is a tribute to its investment in building and sustaining the brand. Its hand has also been strengthened by new low fares to many European destinations, allowing it to compete head-on with the no-frills carriers. It is significant that both Ryanair and easyJet have become more unpopular over the past year.

BA has also invested in making its website more useful and easier to navigate, improved both first-class and economy travel, and relaunched Club World last November. But service has to match the brand promise and demotivated staff don't deliver great service. A BA spokesman claims that a deal with 76% of cabin crew in January to avert strike action spelled the beginning of an improved relationship with its workforce.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 British Airways 39.8
2 Virgin Atlantic 17.2
3 easyJet 8.9
4 bmi 6.0
5 Qantas 5.2


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Ryanair 25.5
2 easyJet 23.5
3 British Airways 16.9
4 Air France 9.1
5 Monarch 6.6

26.2% believe there is little difference between budget airlines and
traditional carriers

CHARITIES

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) was one of the biggest risers in the top 50 most-loved list, up from 41 to 19, extending its lead over NSPCC by a considerable margin.

The least-favourite charities continue to be those characterised by religious or campaigning associations. The appearance of two cancer charities in the top five favourites reinforces consumers' propensity to give to charities that are focused and operate closer to home.

CRUK also benefits from increasingly sophisticated marketing, including participatory events such as the highly successful Race for Life, the communication of a more positive image of cancer as a disease that is being treated increasingly successfully and the message that people are surviving. 'The idea of hope is central to our brand, and consumers are responding to that,' says Katherine Crawshaw, brand manager at CRUK.

Given consumers' focus on green issues, the lack of a Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth is surprising.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Cancer Research UK 26.6
2 NSPCC 13.4
3 RSPCA 12.5
4 PDSA 9.2
5 Macmillan Cancer Support 6.8


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 Oxfam 15.0
2 Christian Aid 14.5
3 War on Want 13.2
4 The Salvation Army 11.9
5 RSPCA 8.5

60.7% are put off by charity activists in the street

ISPS

Four of the five favourite internet service providers (ISPs) also feature on the least-favourite list, reflecting an apparent lack of quality customer service on offer in the sector.

It seems surprising that only one provider, AOL, appears in the top 50 least-liked brands, but it probably owes its position to its perception as a big and brash US player - an image that its takeover by Carphone Warehouse, which bought the ISP's UK operation last year, has done nothing to mitigate.

Rankings in this sector are poised to change as a result of the AOL-Carphone Warehouse merger and the takeover of NTL by Virgin. 'It will be interesting to see who can stop Virgin charging away,' says Joshua's Howells, who adds that there is a real opportunity for a brand to steal a march by providing good customer service.

A year ago, it might have been thought that Carphone Warehouse was ideally placed to take on the role of challenger brand, but its trusted status has been eroded by its own problems with customer service over the past few months as it struggled to meet demand for its broadband service.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 NTL 22.5
2 BTOpenworld 20.4
3 AOL 18.7
4 Tiscali 8.9
5 Virgin.net 8.5


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 AOL 46.0
2 BTOpenworld 12.9
3 NTL 11.2
4 Tiscali 8.3
5 Freeserve 5.3

DAILY NEWSPAPERS

Two News International brands - The Sun and The Times - made the biggest headway in this year's survey.

The former overtook the Daily Mail as the nation's most-loved newspaper, but also became the nation's least-liked. The fact that it polarises views to such an extent indicates that its targeting is spot-on.

The Times replaced The Guardian in fourth spot in the category, suggesting its tabloid format is working well; according to the survey, almost half of respondents were unconcerned about the format of their daily paper.

The Daily Telegraph, the market leader in the quality sector, is conspicuous by its absence from both lists, suggesting a relatively poor understanding of its readership. Conversely, The Guardian, with only half the circulation of the Telegraph, continues to punch above its weight, buoyed by the popularity of its Guardian Unlimited website and engagement with its audience.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 The Sun 24.1
2 Daily Mail 21.9
3 Daily Mirror 10.8
4 The Times 10.1
5 The Guardian 9.1


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 The Sun 30.7
2 Daily Star 24.5
3 Financial Times 12.6
4 Daily Mail 7.8
5 Daily Mirror 7.7

44% don't mind whether their newspaper is in a tabloid or broadsheet
format

WOMEN

Nokia's position as the most-loved brand among women may seem surprising.

However, its association with 'connecting people' undoubtedly played its part; according to ICM Research, women send texts more regularly than men. Design was also key, with engagement boosted by handsets such as the limited-edition Cath Kidston-embellished 6111.

Online brands fared well, with web retailers Amazon and eBay ranked ahead of high-street stores M&S, IKEA and Tesco.

Pot Noodle and McDonald's were among women's five most-disliked brands. The former's male-oriented ads will have done it no favours, while McDonald's attempts to push healthier menu items failed to find a positive reception.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Nokia 74.8
2 Google 71.7
3 Amazon 62.5
4 eBay 52.1
5 British Airways 51.7


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 McDonald's 24.4
2 AOL 23.9
3 Pot Noodle 22.3
4 Sunny Delight 18.5
5 Manchester United 17.1

67.3% of men and 65.1% of women believe that even though McDonald's now
offers salads, fast-food chains are as unhealthy as ever

TV CHANNELS

ITV remains in second spot in the category this year, but its position in the top 50 most-loved brands plummeted from 18 to 45. This decline followed well-publicised commercial, management and programming problems.

BBC One fared far better, primarily the result of a slew of successful programmes in the past 18 months including Life on Mars, Dr Who and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? It also refreshed its brand with a series of idents based on the central theme of a globe shape, designed to reflect the nation 'coming together as one', according to head of marketing Naomi Gibney.

Sky One and Sky Sports both appear on the favourites list, unlike BBC Two or Five, though Sky Sports also ranked as the second most-hated TV brand. Consumer perceptions of Sky could change markedly following its public spat with Virgin Media.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 BBC One 27.5
2 ITV 15.5
3 Channel 4 9.2
4 Sky One 7.4
5 Sky Sports 6.8


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 QVC 18.6
2 Sky Sports 18.0
3 BBC Two 8.3
4 ITV 8.3
5 MTV 7.1

72.9% believe that terrestrial channels are not enough

MEN

While high-street retail brands are nowhere to be seen among women's top-five favourite brands, both M&S and Tesco are ranked highly by men.

Technology brands top both lists, illustrating the uniform strength of the Google proposition and Nokia's universal appeal.

Judging by the brands just outside the top five, some FMCG providers are having an impact on the male psyche. These include both laundry detergent Persil and shampoo Head & Shoulders, confirming that men are taking more of an interest in their appearance.

Men seem more certain than women about their least-liked brands; while the two sexes are agreed on which are the most-hated, a lower proportion of women has cited them.

MOST LOVED

Brand % category
votes
1 Google 64.6
2 Nokia 43.2
3 Amazon 37.0
4 M&S (home retailer) 36.1
5 Tesco 32.0


MOST HATED

Brand % category
votes
1 McDonald's 29.3
2 AOL 28.7
3 Pot Noodle 26.7
4 Sunny Delight 22.3
5 Manchester United 20.5

METHODOLOGY

The 'Brands We Love and Brands We Hate' survey was carried out in March by Joshua G2, in conjunction with Marketing. The core objective was to establish which are Britain's best-loved and most-hated brands.

The survey was run using proprietorial online research tool Joshua ConsumerCheck. It listed more than 400 brands, in random order, divided into 32 product categories, from cars to washing powders, mobile phones to football teams, airlines to financial institutions. Respondents were asked to choose one favourite and one least-favourite brand in each category, and then indicate those brands they owned or ever used. In addition, they were asked to express an opinion on a topical issue raised within each category, with responses graded from 'I strongly agree' to 'I strongly disagree'.

The survey was conducted online, with hosting handled by The iD Factor. Respondents invited to take part in the survey were drawn from its online research only panel, Home Of Research. Respondents were sent an email inviting them to participate and a unique link to the survey. They were offered an incentive of 50p to respond, but 57% of the UK panel opted to donate this to charity. The total number of responses during the period was 2412.

For further information on this report, or Joshua's services, contact matthew.howells@joshua-g2.co.uk or call 020 7453 7602.

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