Profit-gain Available to Global Brands from Consumers Willing to Pay Billions More for Simpler Experiences and Interactions

February 16, 2011

Siegel+Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index™ Rates Top Brands Consumers Deem Most Simple

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – Consumers in countries around the world want to simplify their lives according to a new survey from global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, and they are willing to pay between 5 and 6 percent more for brands that offer simpler experiences and interactions. The trend is most pronounced with technology and electronics offerings, where 22.5 percent of consumers surveyed say they are willing to pay more than 6 percent more for simplified brand experiences. Retail fashion brands also have much to gain, with 15 percent of consumers surveyed willing to pay a Simplicity Premium™ of 6 percent more.

The first annual Global Brand Simplicity Index™, conducted by Siegel+Gale in late 2010, polled over 6,000 consumers across seven countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America to uncover the perceived points of complexity and simplicity in people’s lives. It also uncovered the Simplicity Premium™, an exploration of the added value people would place on having a more simplified experience with brands in various industries.

Fast food, grocery retailers and technology and electronics brands are seen by consumers as delivering the simplest experiences and make up the top 10 brands in the Global Brand Simplicity Index™.

Banks (especially those offering mortgages), insurance and credit card companies are seen as most complex and least clear across all countries, and round out the bottom 10 brands in the Global Brand Simplicity Index™. They are joined by car and car rental brands and fitness and air travel brands.

The survey examined respondents’ answers to the following types of questions:

  • How complex or simple do people feel their lives are? Over the years, how has this changed?
  • What business sectors contribute most to making people’s lives simpler or more complex?
  • What brands are clearest and simplest in their communications and interactions with consumers?
  • What value do simple and clear communications and interactions provide to consumers?

Motivated by the power of simplicity to help organizations realize their true potential, Siegel+Gale used the survey results to develop the first ever Global Brand Simplicity Index™ which generates a Simplicity Score™—a rating of each brand and its category on the elements of the simplicity methodology. Siegel+Gale defines simplicity as ease of understanding, transparency, caring, innovation and usefulness of communications, as well as how painful typical interactions are in relation to industry peers.

The Global Brand Simplicity Index™ top 10 brands include:

Key survey findings revealed that the top brands on the Global Brand Simplicity Index™ make people’s lives simpler by:

  • Communicating directly, clearly and without jargon
  • Reducing stress by providing savings/value
  • Saving time by increased convenience and accessibility
  • Facilitating ease of use and interactions
  • Enabling consumers to get more from life: deeper relationships, easier lifestyles

“Today’s crisis of complexity does not plague just one region,” says Howard Belk, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief creative officer. “CEOs of organizations around the world have identified complexity as one of their biggest obstacles. Meanwhile the global financial crisis continues to challenge world banks and financial institutions to transform the way they communicate with customers. But what’s striking about this survey is not the geographic reach of complexity; it’s the overwhelming support for clarity and transparency as a solution.”

“The message to brands competing for increased revenue, market share and consumer loyalty is obvious,” says David Srere, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief strategy officer. “Clarity and transparency pays. Food and retail brands like McDonald’s and Amazon that communicate simply and directly will continue to reap financial rewards and gain loyalty in the process, while industries like insurance and banking that don’t embrace simplified communications will continue to struggle in the global marketplace.”

Findings revealed that the lowest rated brands on the Global Brand Simplicity Index™ make people’s lives more complex by:

  • Communicating in ways that are hard to understand and/or are perceived as deceitful
  • Being perceived as intentionally overcharging consumers
  • Being seen as ‘niche’ or for too select of an audience/poorly accessible
  • Being found difficult to interact with, with poor customer service experiences and/or hard to use interfaces

According to the survey, globally, people do believe their lives are more complex now compared to 10 years ago. However, the definitions and general context regarding life’s complexities tend to vary by region. In China and India, respondents indicated that their lives seemed to be more simple prior to ages 50 to 55, after which life starts becoming more complex again. In the U.S., there appears to be a midlife “complexity crisis” around ages 40 to 50, before life begins to simplify in later years.

The relationship between money and the complexity of life also varies by country. In the U.S. and the UK, money may not buy you happiness – if one equates happiness to a simpler life. In fact, people in the top income bracket reported feeling that their lives were significantly more complex. However, in countries like India and China, respondents noted that upon passing a certain income threshold, money does indeed make life simpler.

“It's a fascinating survey,” says Robert Waller, Professor of Information Design at the University of Reading, “It shows that in a world of feature-obsessed competitors desperate to differentiate themselves, customers actually value simplicity, and claim they would pay more for it. Some of the rankings are not too surprising – after all, grabbing a burger is always going to be easier than choosing a retirement plan. But credit card brands, a product designed to make life easier, should hang their heads in shame at their consistently low rating. The customer comments illuminate the data, and make you wonder what the world would be like if the simple brands (McDonald’s, Nokia, Amazon) ran the banks.”

Review the full survey report here.

About the Global Brand Simplicity Index™

Siegel+Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index™ is an output of global brand ratings based on an online survey of more than 6,000 consumers in seven different countries. Each rating comprises the simplicity/complexity of a brand’s interactions and communications in relation to their industry peers. The index also incorporates an industry simplicity score for a particular brand’s industry/category(ies).


About Siegel+Gale

Siegel+Gale is a global strategic branding firm committed to building world-class brands through elegantly simple, unexpectedly fresh strategies, stories and experiences. With Simple is Smart as its operating philosophy, Siegel+Gale delivers powerful services in brand development, simplification, research, and digital strategy.

Since its founding by branding pioneer Alan Siegel in 1969, Siegel+Gale has helped drive business results for brands such as Aetna, American Express, Bank of America, China Youth Development Foundation, Dell, Dow Chemical Company, The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, The Internal Revenue Service, The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Microsoft, Motorola, Pfizer, Qatar Telecom, SAP, Sony PlayStation, Yahoo! and the YMCA.

Siegel+Gale has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Hamburg, Dubai, Shanghai and Beijing and strategic partnerships around the world as a member of the Omnicom Group of companies.

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